UPDATE: Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz is in doubt for Sunday’s crucial A-League game away to Wellington Phoenix after withdrawing from an international match with a groin injury.
Smeltz, 32, was due to line up as a substitute for New Zealand against Japan in Tokyo tonight, but was pulled out of the squad as a precaution just hours before the match.
The injury was described as a “minor groin problem” in a media release issued by New Zealand Football this afternoon.
All Whites coach Neil Emblen said medical staff were wary of aggravating the injury.
“It’s disappointing for Shane but after consulting with the medical staff it was decided the injury would hinder his performance,” Emblen said.
“There was also the potential of further aggravation, especially given the rain that has fallen today.”
Glory are on a four-match losing streak and have slipped to last place on the A-League ladder, but are still clinging to slim hopes of reaching the finals.
They sit seven points and goal difference behind sixth-placed Sydney FC, with six games to play.
Smeltz is Glory’s top scorer this season and netted their only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Brisbane last week.
Young Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren could return to the starting line-up if Smeltz is ruled out.
Glory said tonight Smeltz will join up with the rest of the squad when they arrive in New Zealand.