|By STEVE ORME
Western Sydney Wanderers captain Michael Beauchamp says the sudden death of media manager Rod Allen will provide extra motivation in the upcoming A-League finals series.
Allen died on Sunday in a freak accident less than 48 hours after the Wanderers claimed the Premiers' Plate with a 3-0 thumping of the Jets in Newcastle, casting a dark shadow over an otherwise fairytale season.
"It shocked all of us," Beauchamp said.
"I think everyone started thinking about their last moment with him.
"I got a text message from him just the day before that and obviously everyone knows him as a true professional, a great guy and our thoughts are definitely with his family.
"He's a big loss to the club and this club has that family environment and he definitely was a bit of that, so it gives us more motivation as well throughout the rest of the season.
"I think it puts life in perspective, everything can get taken away from you so fast and that's why the motivation is there even more so now because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."
Coach Tony Popovic added: "We're saddened and obviously shocked by the news and it's hit the club quite hard.
"He's a very important part of this club and it's quite strange not having him standing here today telling me what to expect, so certainly I personally miss him and everyone else does at the club.
"He'll be sorely missed and it's a tough time for everyone involved but in particular his wife and his family who are going through a tough time right now and from the chairman down we'll do everything we can to support them through this tough time."
Meanwhile, Popovic says the subdued celebrations after Friday's win is proof his players are far from satisfied with their achievements so far.
The Wanderers will play the lowest-ranked winner from this weekend's elimination finals in the first semi-final at Parramatta Stadium on Friday week.
"On Friday night on the way back [from Newcastle] the players were actually quite quiet on the bus which is a sign the players want more, and they'll do whatever they can to try and achieve more this year," Popovic said.
"There'll certainly be a time and a place to celebrate our achievements and we can do that at the end of the season."
The coach is hopeful his injured contingent, including Shinji Ono [groin], will be available for the semi-final against either Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar or Perth Glory.
"Shinji started running yesterday, so that was his first day out on the pitch," he said.
"He came through that unscathed but it was a very light session.
"He'll start picking up the intensity and it really is a day by day proposition to see how his body is and how his groin responds."Adam D'Apuzzo [foot], Jerome Polenz [quad], Aaron Mooy [knee] and Beauchamp [quad] are also carrying injuries but are all hopeful of being available for selection.