24 Feb 2017

Phoenix trio face season ending suspension

1:14 pm on 24 February 2017
Roly Bonevacia

Roly Bonevacia Photo: Photosport

Three Wellington Phoenix players have been dropped ahead of this weekend's match - and may even be suspended for the rest of the season - for breaching team protocols .

Midfielder Roly Bonevacia and defenders Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry have been stood down indefinitely by coaches Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre.

However the coaches won't say what the trio have done.

Doyle was recently made a member of the Phoenix leadership group and is the club's only specialist left-back.

Phoenix player Tom Doyle (right) battles for the ball.

Phoenix player Tom Doyle (right) battles for the ball. Photo: Photosport

Buckingham said the three dropped players breached team standards but did nothing illegal and there had been no complaint from a third party.

The matter had been dealt with internally and police were not involved and no criminal investigation surrounded the incident, they said.

The Phoenix were thrashed 5-1 by Melbourne City last weekend and the breach of standards occurred following that loss and before the team's next meeting.

It was believed the breach happened late that Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

Buckingham said the trio let themselves, the club and the fans down.

"We (the team) spoke after the game about needing players to dig in and help us win seven important games to get the season back on track. The three (Doyle, Bonevacia, Lowry)... the lack of professionalism from the three of them, after what was a very disappointing result, is the reason they'll miss out this weekend."

The Phoenix were sending a message to their players, and Buckingham said the three could face further punishment and may not be brought back into the playing squad for the rest of the season.

"It's important that players understand that we're all in this together. It's a professional football club, we've got professional staff, professional coaches, management and team and we've got fans paying good money to come and watch this team and support this club. So it's important every single player, over the next seven weeks especially, needs to recognise their own responsibilities to do their job.

"Those three will still be part of that for the season - whether or not they come back into squad selection is a discussion to be had at a later date."

Losing the three players, including Doyle, who may be stripped of his leadership role, is a huge blow to the Phoenix before tomorrow night's potentially season-defining game in Brisbane.

"I'm disappointed in having to leave out three players who started the last two or three games, I'm very disappointed for the playing group who have been let down, I'm disappointed for the football club and I'm very disappointed for the fans who're paying money to come and support this team after a poor result last week."

Buckingham conceded it weakened their side and the squad's depth, though he was confident the players who filled the missing trio's roles would do the job.