City sweat on Ekic, eye improvement in ALW

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A-League Women leaders Melbourne City are sweating on the fitness of key attacker Emina Ekic but are confident they will only improve as their injury list starts to dwindle.

Ekic suffered a nasty-looking ankle injury in City’s 1-0 win over Perth Glory on Tuesday, requiring assistance to leave the field, and was on crutches post-match.

The American, on loan from Racing Louisville until mid-February, notched the winner from the penalty spot against Perth and has four goals and one assist to her credit from six games.

“She’s a little bit hobbled at the moment,” interim coach Dario Vidosic said.

“She said it’s painful. It’s on her ankle.

“We’re not sure from the bench what happened – everyone heard a bit of a scream.

“We’ll see probably in the next day or two the extent of the injury. We hope it’s nothing too serious and hopefully we don’t lose her for too long.”

Hannah Wilkinson impressed in her return to Vidosic’s side from a quad injury, playing a full 90 minutes, while fringe Matildas defender Karly Roestbakken made her first appearance for City after a persistent foot injury, coming on as a substitute with 12 minutes remaining.

City have also had to reshuffle after gun goalscorer and injury-replacement signing Maria Jose Rojas had to depart following Wilkinson’s return to fitness.

“This was Wilky’s first game of the season, Karly’s first minutes of the season and then (Leticia McKenna) we’re building up as well, and Caitlin Karic,” Vidosic said.

“So we’re building. Dani Galic is getting better and better every week – a 16-year-old.

“It’s a young team and that’s the message, that every week it does get better and better.”

Emma Checker missed a second consecutive match through illness but should return for City’s clash with Western Sydney on January 8.

Holly McNamara (ACL) is a longer-term absence.

Meanwhile, eighth-placed Perth are seven points adrift of the top four, with tough matches against unbeaten Western United at home on New Year’s Day and Melbourne Victory away on January 6 to come.

“There’s a whole team in there right now that are going to be burning with that result,” coach Alex Epakis said after the loss to City.

“But the silver lining is that we know a performance like that will get a result against other teams.

“So we’ve won in terms of the performance today.

“We’ve set a benchmark for ourselves internally and we’re going to have to use that against those two teams in that quick turnaround.”

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