Spirit loses Gough

Northern Spirit has suffered an early setback, with guest-signing Richard Gough ruled out of a two-match stint. The Scot strained a calf muscle at training and will be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Northern Spirit has suffered an early National Soccer League setback, with star signing Richard Gough ruled out of a planned two-match guest stint.

The Scottish international defender strained a calf muscle at training and will be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Northern Spirit had brought Gough to Australia to play in the opening two matches of the NSL season as a guest player, including Saturday night's season opener against Parramatta Power.

Gough said he was disappointed to pull out of the two matches. "I don't want to do an injustice to myself or Northern Spirit by playing when I am not 100 per cent fit.

"I was fit and ready to play but it is just one of those things that happens in football."

Spirit officials said Gough would now return to the United States, but hoped he would be back in Australia in January for another two-match guest stint.

Northern Spirit coach Mick Hickman has drafted defender Jack Sobczyk into the squad to replace Gough.

The NSL season starts tomorrow night, with reigning champions Wollongong hosting Marconi, Newcastle at home to Melbourne Knights and the Kingz travelling to Brisbane.