A-League: Wellington Phoenix lose Gary Hooper, Tim Payne for playoffs

The Wellington Phoenix have been dealt a double injury blow ahead of the A-League playoffs with two key players ruled out for the remainder of the season. 

Star striker Gary Hooper and defender Tim Payne both sustained hamstring injuries and will play no further part this season. 

Englishman Hooper sustained his during last week's 1-1 draw against the Brisbane Roar, while Payne, who hasn't played since the A-League's resumption last month, picked up his injury at training. 

With the duo ruled out for the remainder of the season, they've been granted permission to leave the Phoenix's bubble with Hooper returning to England to reunite with his family, and Payne heading to New Zealand. 

"Both Hooper and Payne have been an important part of our team this season and they've both been instrumental in getting us into the top six," says Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay. 

"They're both great players, great teammates and we wish them all the very best with their respective recoveries.

"For us as a club, our focus remains on preparing for the finals - I like our chances with the squad we have in place and the commitment they've shown to playing the game the right way."

The Phoenix will play either Perth Glory or Brisbane Roar in their elimination final next weekend, depending on the outcome of Wednesday night's clash between Mark Rudan's Western United and Melbourne City.

The elimination plays are scheduled for August 22 and 23.

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