If Melbourne City are to climb the A-League table, they'll have to do so without key defender Bart Schenkeveld, who has been ruled out of Sunday's crunch visit to Wellington.
The Dutchman suffered a groin strain after training last week and missed City's last-out draw with Adelaide.
Coach Warren Joyce says the 27-year-old won't be fit for City's second match with finals-bound opponents in as many weeks.
"He won't be travelling," Joyce said.
"We were hoping. He's tried to kick a couple of balls this morning.
"Instead of rushing him now he'll do some kind of training ... and we'll plan to get him back as soon as we can."
Schenkeveld suffered the injury in innocuous fashion, kicking a ball after the completion of training last week "and feeling sharp pain" according to Joyce.
While City's powerhouse centre-back won't be seen, left-back and captain Scott Jamieson edges closer to a return.
A broken foot led many to believe the 30-year-old wouldn't be seen before finals but Joyce has his skipper in the mix for a trip across the Tasman.
"It's a bonus what he's done this week, he's had three days building his work up with no reaction," he said.
"He's worked tremendously hard behind the scenes on the things he could do ... he's ahead of schedule but he's in good nick as well."
Should City lose the clash against the Nix, they'll miss out on the possibility of a home final and most likely finish sixth.
Unlike City, Wellington has moved to remove the uncertainty around their coach's future, announcing Mark Rudan will leave the club next season.
Joyce is no surer of his own future, declining to comment on the speculation - saying he hadn't even read the news of Rudan's departure.
"I'm late on the press, I didn't even know that," he said, laughing.