THE Jekyll and Hyde season of the Phoenix took a further turn for the worse with news yesterday that midfielder Daniel could be sidelined for up to three weeks after picking up an ankle injury in the 2-0 loss to A-League leaders Central Coast.
While his teammates stay in Australia to prepare for the clash against Sydney this Saturday, Daniel will return to Wellington for treatment.
Physiotherapist Wayne Roberts said the injury on Saturday night appeared to be a high ankle sprain.
"There is no chance of him playing against Sydney so the best scenario was to get him back to Wellington as soon as possible for a scan.
"Hopefully it is nothing more serious but we need to find out quickly."
Brazilian-born Daniel, whose contract ends in April and who has fielded offers from Singapore and Thailand, said his first choice was to stay with the Phoenix, and he was having discussions with the club. The 32-year-old, who reached 100 appearances for the Phoenix last month, also said he had ambitions to represent the All Whites now he was qualified to do so.
From the outset of Saturday's match, there was an understandable unsettled look to the Phoenix with key players Andrew Durante and Tim Brown serving one-match suspensions.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold quickly showed his hand. His players targeted stand-in right back Vinnie Lia, putting pressure on that flank.
Coach Ricki Herbert and stand-in captain Ben Sigmund admitted the Mariners deserved the points.
"I don't think we were really there tonight," said Herbert. "We were probably lucky it was only 2-0. We were a little flat. They caught us on a bad day."
Sigmund agreed, admitting the Phoenix could have been out of the match by halftime. "We came out better in the second half," he said, "but still didn't get anything going."
Mariners coach Arnold said: "Our football was first class. I was happy last week and we lost; it's how you learn from a loss that counts."
He was especially pleased with Tomas Rogic, who unleashed a super strike for the 53rd-minute opener, and new recruit John Sutton, who played most of the match after just over a week of training with the Mariners.