The state of the playing surface at EnergyAustralia Stadium has again come under question in the wake of a serious knee injury to Jets striker Sean Rooney.
Rooney will have an MRI scan today which is almost certain to confirm that the 21-year-old has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and faces at least six months on the sideline. A second-half substitute, Rooney had been on the field less than five minutes in the 1
-0 win over Wellington on Saturday night when his knee buckled in a challenge with Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante.
The incident occurred on the eastern side of the ground on a large section which had been relayed with new turf nearly three weeks ago. Jets executive chairman Ken Edwards last night dismissed suggestions that the surface had been responsible in any way for Rooney's injury.
"There is no question that the pitch did not contribute to his injury," Edwards said. "That is not the case."
When asked if he thought it had played a part, Rooney said: "I don't know, it happened so fast."
Jets coach Branko Culina admitted he had concerns over some sections of the playing area. "The pitch in parts is terrific and other parts not so good," he said.
Most of the criticism of the surface, which was severely damaged when the stadium hosted a Super X motorcycle event on October 16, has centred on wide areas which were not replaced due to the unavailability of turf.
On Saturday, the match had to be stopped in the first half for a groundsman to repair a large crater made by Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley when he slid in for a tackle near the eastern sideline on the old surface. Edwards, who has overseen the project, said the running repair work was not desirable but maintained the ground was safe.
"We had a fair bit of rain last week and it was still soft. "There was other work, coring of the grass and some sanding. That was done in part to help dry it out and firm it up. "The pitch is improving. It is getting better each game."
FIFA match agent Lou Sticca has been monitoring the situation on behalf of the Galaxy, who depart Los Angeles tomorrow night and are scheduled to train on the ground on Friday. "If they weren't playing A-League games on the pitch it would be a worry," Sticca said.
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