Tim Brown, the combative All Whites midfielder, has arrived back in Auckland today after his colleagues departed for Austria in preparation for the World Cup. Brown suffered a fractured shoulder during the 2-1 defeat to Australia on Monday, after a fairly innocuous challenge from Aussie Vince Grella sent him crashing to the ground . Brown though was surprisingly the only casualty after a brutal first half which saw Leo Bertos become the victim of two crunching challenges from the Aussie midfield, and although Bertos suffered a deep cut to his shin, he has been cleared for the next warm-up match on May 29th against Serbia.
The fact that Brown was the only injury will be little comfort to the All Whites, as Brown is revered throughout the squad as a great midfield engine. Defender Beg Sigmund spoke of the All Whites Vice-Captain before their European departure:
“Tim’s the one doing all the running, making all the tackles… we’re going to miss him if he’s not there.”
Brown, unable to contemplate missing the tournament of a lifetime, has rated his chances of making it to South Africa as “50-50”, with the midfielder adding that he was “desperate to be involved“:
“I think there’s a big chunk of bone that’s been ripped off….there’s a chance they might be able to put some screws in it, and if they can do that and it goes well, i’m a real chance to be involved.”
Coach Ricki Herbert has given Brown until the second game of the group stage against Italy to be match fit. That effectively rules him out of all three warm up games against Serbia, Slovenia, and Chile, as well as possibly the opener against Slovakia on June 15th. However Herbert did not appear to be too optimistic when quizzed about the 27 year-olds chances of making the finals:
“I’m not holding my breath but we’re certainly going to give him every possible time. He’s an integral part of the team; he does a great job for us. It’ll be a big loss, should that happen.”