Arnold upset over Abbas injury
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold claims two Western Sydney Wanderers players "high-fived" as Ali Abbas was helped off with knee injuries now revealed to be so severe he's sidelined until 2016.
Arnold has also questioned why Wanderers midfielder Iacopo La Rocca was not yellow-carded for his two challenges on Sydney FC midfielder Abbas, including the one which resulted in his injuries early in Saturday night's Sydney derby at Pirtek Stadium.
He said a yellow card on the first challenge would have likely prevented the second and saved the Iraqi international's season.
The Sky Blues are also surprised that La Rocco was not subsequently charged by the match review panel.
"The same player nailed him twice in three minutes and on the wide angle vision, when Ali's getting carried off by the physio and the doctor, two players high-fived," Arnold said at training on Tuesday.
Abbas has had run-ins with Wanderers players in previous derby matches.
Asked if he thought Abbas was targeted, Arnold said: "I don't know if it was premeditated. I can't answer that."
He said he wouldn't ask his team to be more physical in the wake of the incident.
"I would never do that and I know (Wanderers coach) Tony Popovic wouldn't," said Arnold.
La Rocca has strongly denied having any malicious intent in his tackle on Abbas.
"I am not a dirty player and I did not intend to hurt Ali," La Rocca told SBS.
"Yes, I went into the challenge aggressively but with fair intentions as I always do because that's the type of player I am and that's how I play my football."
Arnold described Abbas as being in a "bad way" and "devastated" after scans revealed his prognosis was worse than initially thought, sidelining him for 14-15 months.
"It's a huge loss to lose a player for 14-15 months," said Arnold.
"It's a huge loss for a player not to be able to represent his country at the Asian Cup here and it's a big challenge for the kid's career to try and come back."
The scans revealed Abbas has torn his anterior cruciate ligament, medial ligament and damaged the capsule at the back of his left knee.
He is unable to undergo surgery for 8-10 weeks as he waits for some of the damage to heal.
The loss of the Iraqi international is a huge blow to the unbeaten club's title aspirations and comes on top of the season-ending ACL injury to striker Corey Gameiro.
The club has two foreign player places available on its roster and Arnold said he had already made contact with agents in Europe to find cover.
"We do have the opportunity to bring in a couple of international injury replacement players but first of all I think we're going to have to wait until January," he said.
"I think I've learnt lessons in the past and this club has learnt lessons in the past if we rush in and play someone who hasn't played for six months.
"They come here out of shape and it takes a long while to get them fit.
"I was on the phone last night to quite a few agents, contacts in Europe. I'll maybe look to get some players in when the transfer window opens in January."