Central Coast defender Dean Heffernan will miss the rest of the season unless the Mariners make the A-League grand final after receiving a two-match ban.
Heffernan had what can be best described as a brain explosion during his side's 3-0 loss to Melbourne on the weekend, elbowing Victory skipper Kevin Muscat in the head late in the Telstra Dome defeat.
His off-the-ball strike, while awaiting a corner kick, earned a straight red card from referee Peter Green and also the ire of coach Lawrie McKinna who described the incident as "shocking" and "ridiculous".
McKinna faces a massive defensive reshuffle for this weekend after Andrew Clark also picked up a yellow card to earn a one-match ban.
The Mariners (fourth, 28 points) will know exactly what they need to do against table-topping Adelaide on Sunday to secure a finals spot, with the fifth-placed Wellington Phoenix (26 points) to play the Victory in Melbourne on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC's Zach Cairncross will also serve a two-match ban.
The central defender was issued with a red card for a challenge on Queensland's Andrew Packer in their 3-1 loss to the Roar.
Sydney are out of finals contention.