Brisbane Roar midfielder Massimo Murdocca has been ruled out of Sunday's clash with Adelaide and is unlikely to return until the A-League champions play their next Asian Champions League match on March 20.
Murdocca injured his shoulder in the Roar's 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo at Suncorp Stadium and coach Ange Postecoglou is resigned to him missing the next two matches.
Brisbane, three points behind competition pace-setters Central Coast with three games to play, meet Newcastle away in their second last-round match on Saturday week before flying to Beijing for their second ACL clash.
"(Murdocca) will miss this week and potentially miss next week and he might be a chance for the next Champions League game," Postecoglou said.
The injury puts Luke Brattan in position for a rare start with Olyroos playmaker Mitch Nichols struggling to recover from a groin strain.
Nichols suffered the injury in the 1-1 draw with Melbourne Heart last week but hasn't given up on making a surprise return to play ninth-placed Adelaide, who are coming off a shock 2-1 ACL win over Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor in Tashkent.
"We'll let him have a run tomorrow and see how he pulls up but we won't risk him unless he's absolutely 100 per cent," Postecoglou said.
"He'll be close and, if he misses out this week, he'll be right for next week."
Canadian international Issey Nakajima-Farran is expected to return to the Roar's starting line-up against the Reds with Brazilian striker Henrique serving the last of his two-match ban for striking.
Postecoglou hosed down reports the Roar were looking to lure Gold Coast United young gun Ben Halloran and Adelaide star Dario Vidosic, whose father Rado is his assistant coach, for next season.