DEAN HEFFERNAN’S hopes of making this summer’s World Cup finals increased with news that his Australian international teammate Matthew Kemp has been sidelined for nine months.
Kemp, like Town left-back Heffernan aged 29, ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament during A-League leaders Melbourne Victory’s 2-0 win over North Queensland Fury on Friday.
The versatile former Adelaide player, who can fill either full-back berth, suffered the injury just one minute into the game and an MRI scan confirmed he faces reconstructive surgery.
Consequently he will be unable to take part in the World Cup or Melbourne’s Asian Champions League campaign but should return midway through the 2010-11 A-League season.
For Victory it means they will be forced to take a weakened side into their minor premiership decider with Sydney on Sunday, with the club already without the injured Archie Thompson and suspended skipper Kevin Muscat.
"Every year, there are always challenges that arise, whether you are on a bad run or you lose players or whatever," said coach Ernie Merrick.
Heffernan’s former club Central Coast Mariners were 3-0 winners over Newcastle Jets.
The team based in Gosford, North of Sydney, are seventh in the 10-team league, but with just one game to go, can’t make the top-six play-offs.
Heffernan, who has won two caps and is a hot tip for selection for South Africa, was watched by Australia’s assistant national coach, Dutchman Henk Duut, when he made his second Town appearance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Carlisle United.