Western Sydney's hopes of ending their A-League Men finals drought have taken a blow with defender Tate Russell ruled out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
The fullback suffered the dreaded injury at training, little more than a month out from the Wanderers' October 9 season opener against Perth at home.
Russell, 23, has been a consistent figure in the Wanderers' starting line-up despite the club's turbulence and its failure to make the finals since 2016-17, playing 42 of his 69 ALM games across the past two seasons.
His injury sours the Wanderers' busy off-season, where the club enjoyed a signing spree, luring the likes of Milos Ninkovic, Brandon Borrello, Lawrence Thomas and Kusini Yengi.
"It is heartbreaking for us to lose Tate for the upcoming A-Leagues season after such promising pre-season preparations," coach Mark Rudan said in a statement.
"Tate is a resilient and strong young man, and we will do whatever possible to support him in his journey back to full fitness."