David Ball plays through pain to help Wellington Phoenix to top-six

Phoenix forward David Ball scored the game-winning goal in last weekend's win over the Wanderers.

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Phoenix forward David Ball scored the game-winning goal in last weekend’s win over the Wanderers.

Men’s A-League: Wellington Phoenix victory against Melbourne

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David Ball will be hoping Wellington Phoenix can get into the top six as soon as possible to give themselves some breathing room after suffering a painful injury.

The Englishman has started the last four games despite tearing the collateral ligament in his big toe, which means he has to wear a moon boot when not playing.

He took painkiller injections just so he could put on his football boots and play, but they wear off after about 60 minutes.

Ball said he was so determined to help the Phoenix clinch a place in the Finals that he was willing to risk further damage by playing through the pain.

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He suffered the injury when Josh Nisbet – the smallest player in the A-League Men – stood on his big toe in their 5-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners on April 5.

“I said to the boss ‘I think I broke my toe,'” Ball said.

“He took me off the pitch at that point and I went for an x-ray but nothing looked broken so I played the Western United game and got kicked for the game but I Obviously I was in a lot of pain.

“We had an MRI and it showed a tear.”

Ball hasn’t been able to train properly since the injury, maintaining his fitness by riding an exercise bike or swimming in the pool.

“It was difficult in itself to prepare for games,” he said.

“I’m in meetings and watching practice when we’re doing tactical stuff, but from a fitness perspective I have to try to do stuff in the gym and swim to keep my heart rate up just to get ready. .

“I get injected 10 mins before the guys come out for warm up and it takes 5-10 mins to settle in but by half time it pretty much wears off so I play with an injury at this moment.

“I still don’t feel 100% when I move and it’s actually quite a painful injection.”


Fans were thrilled to see the Wellington Phoenix on their home turf against the Central Coast Mariners at Sky Stadium.

Ball was initially told he would have to take four weeks off to let the injury fully heal, but that would have effectively ended his season as he thought it would take another two weeks to get back to full fitness.

“The physio asked me if I could still play if we located him and they said yes, but there is a higher risk that you could tear the ligament completely, which would be surgery and three-four months of pain. stop, so we had to weigh what we needed to do. .

“I spoke with the manager and he said he would like me to play if I can get away with it, so it was a decision I had to make because I’m the one taking all the risk.

“But I was ready to do it because I felt like the sacrifices I’m making, I’m away from my family, that more than any season it’s important that we finish well and I I’m still part of it.”

David Ball played with a torn ligament in his big toe.

Albert Perez/Getty Images

David Ball played with a torn ligament in his big toe.

Fifth-placed Phoenix tackle in-form Melbourne victory at AAMI Park on Friday night, needing to win just one of their three remaining games to secure a top-six spot after beat Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 last Sunday.

Ball assisted Ben Waine’s winning goal before being substituted after 63 minutes.

“I said at half time that I was really struggling and the manager asked for another 10-15 minutes to see the start of the second half.

“I love the guys and I think they know how much I’m hurting, but hopefully at some point I can rest to get as close to 100% as possible.

“I just want to help us get over the line and we can reevaluate it and see if I can rest. For the moment, I have the impression that it is still at square one.

Ball is under contract with the Phoenix until the end of next season, but he hopes the commitment he has shown to the club will be reciprocated with a longer contract, which would give his family more security. .

His wife and two sons returned to England a few months ago after the Phoenix were forced to relocate to Australia.

Ball said his preference was to end his career in Wellington.

“It would be hard to ask them to come back just for that time, and after everything they’ve been through, I think I owe it to my wife to set us up,” Ball said.

“We obviously love New Zealand, we have a great support network there, and I love Wellington and the club.

“That was probably the hardest part of my career, being away from my wife and kids.

“I’m struggling with it, but I know I have a job to do and hopefully I can see them in four weeks if we go through with it.”


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