Sydney FC's Anthony Caceres says there was no malicious intent in skipper Luke Brattan's challenge on Brandon Borrello that has consigned the Western Sydney star to three months on the sidelines with a fractured foot.
Borrello will miss January's Asian Cup with the Socceroos as well as a hefty chunk of the A-League Men season after pulling up sore in the wake of Brattan's tackle in the opening stages of last weekend's Sydney derby.
But Caceres, who sympathised with Borrello, stressed there was no deliberate targeting of the 28-year-old forward.
"It was purely a heated derby, where you have to fly into challenges and try to be aggressive," Caceres said on Thursday.
"I don't think there was any sort of bad intention there.
"You don't want to see a fellow footballer suffer an injury and be out for a long time (but) these things happen in football."
Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas also did not believe there was any ill intent in Brattan's tackle, adding that Borrello "is one of our dangerous players, most teams are going to look to stop the dangerous players on the ball".
"(The challenge) just caught him in a awkward position, it's not great to see," Thomas said on Thursday.
The table-topping Wanderers will now need to find a way to keep their attack ticking over without Borrello, who had an operation on his foot on Tuesday evening.
"He had the surgery yesterday and it all went well," Thomas said.
"He's in good spirits and the whole club, especially the players, are getting around him.
"If you look at last season, there's quite a lot of games where he single-handedly got us points through his quality.
"So he's definitely going to be missed but hopefully we can keep up the top of the table and he can come back and help us continue our good form.
"It is a loss not only as a player with his qualities but just as a person around the place.
"He's extremely positive, he's very bubbly, always walking around with a lot of energy."
Australian Associated Press