Alessandro Del Piero has been denied the chance to build match fitness ahead of his debut season with Sydney FC after Central Coast Mariners cancelled a pre-season friendly scheduled for Wednesday night.
The Mariners had to pull out of the clash at Sydney Football Stadium as a result of not having enough fit players left after their trip to Maroochydore to play Brisbane Roar at the weekend.
But it means Sydney will be left without a competitive hit-out against similar quality opposition after their friendly against Newcastle Jets at Budgewoi was also cancelled.
And Del Piero could be forced to enter the season without a single pre-season match in Australia under his belt.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold said it was not possible for his depleted side to take the field.
"It was my decision to cancel the game as I don't want to jeopardise the welfare of any of our players," Arnold said.
"We played in Maroochydore on Sunday against Brisbane in very warm conditions and that has sapped the energy of our players. We also copped a few slight injuries and after travelling back Monday we had a light training session this morning.
"The players have not recovered sufficiently for me to put them in a high-risk situation by playing again,'' he said.
Sydney FC must now decide whether to schedule another practice game before
their season opener against Wellington in New Zealand on October 6.
Central Coast start their season against Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta
Stadium the same day.