The prestige of the inaugural A-League All Stars match has taken a major hit, with a hamstring injury ruling Manchester United star Wayne Rooney out of the game in Sydney.
England international Rooney picked up the problem during a training session in Bangkok hours after touching down for the Thailand leg of the English Premier League champions' tour of Asia and Australia.
The injury is expected to rule him out for one month, meaning he faces a race to be fit in time for the start of the 2013-14 league season.
"Following a scan this evening on a hamstring injury sustained in training, it has been decided that Wayne Rooney should return home immediately for further assessment and rehabilitation," United said in a statement.
The 27-year-old's star has fallen somewhat over the last 12 months after a dip in form was followed by the submission of a transfer request at the end of last season.
Nevertheless, his absence from the inaugural showcase match at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on July 20 will come as a major blow to fans and organisers alike.
Although new United manager David Moyes has named a strong squad for the game, he is already without Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Nani, Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernandez and Darren Fletcher through a combination of injury and international commitments.
The All Stars meanwhile will not be able to call on Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey as the marquee imports continue their individual pre-season preparations.
And several Australia internationals who would otherwise be in contention for representative honours will not be available, with the Socceroos competing in the East Asian Cup at the same time as the visit of United.