A shoulder injury to Wellington Phoenix defender Louis Fenton has marred their 1-1 draw with New Zealand A in a pre-season friendly in Rotorua.
Fenton looks likely to miss at least the first month of the A-League after dislocating his right shoulder while making a tackle in the 28th minute. He was helped from the field and emerged with his arm in a sling.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick told reporters Fenton would require at least six weeks to recover.
Their A-League campaign begins at home to the Brisbane Roar on October 13.
Fenton, 20, stood out in his debut season last year as a wide attacker but has been shifted to right back under new coach Merrick, who will need to reconsider his options in that position.
Merrick's team took the lead when Belgian striker Stein Huysegems rounded NZ A goalkeeper Glen Moss to score midway through the first half.
NZ A responded soon after halftime with a goal to midfielder Aaron Clapham after good build-up work from defender Leo Bertos and striker Jeremy Brockie.
Bertos, Brockie, Moss and Phoenix captain Andrew Durante are all regular members of the Phoenix who switched sides on Sunday play against the club.
NZ A and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert started with Durante alongside veteran Ivan Vicelich in the centre of defence, between Bertos and former Phoenix defender Tony Lochhead.
Midfielders Jake Butler and Aaron Clapham, who both featured at the OSN Cup in Saudia Arabia this month, were handed another chance to impress, alongside Cole Peverley, Matthew Ridenton and Jason Hicks.
Former Phoenix coach Herbert was using the match to assess fringe players trying to force their way into his squad for the World Cup play-off matches in November.