Wellington coach Ernie Merrick has conceded there is no guarantee star playmaker Carlos Hernandez will see out the season following a dispute with the club over a personal matter.
The Costa Rican is upset family members have been unable to join him in New Zealand due to a hold up in securing passports and visas.
Merrick insists the club is doing everything in its power to speed up the process and was shocked Hernandez, who was a last minute withdrawal from Thursday's 1-0 loss to Central Coast at North Sydney Oval, is angry over the situation.
"He seems to have an issue regarding his contract, which really surprised me because I know the club is working very hard to get his children visas to come out here," Merrick said.
"That has dragged on and I'm not sure what's going on. He's got an issue...I'm not really sure what the issue is.
"As usual, these things get blown out of proportion."
Asked if he was confident Hernandez would remain at the club, Merrick replied cryptically: "I am, yes, but I don't know what goes through people's minds."
Hernandez flew to Australia with the rest of the squad for the Mariners meeting but was later withdrawn after an ongoing quadriceps injury flared.
The Phoenix still managed to create several opportunities without their main man but were again guilty of gross mismanagement in front of goal, a penalty miss among their many sins.
"He looked pretty good and we brought him over and we thought he wasn't up to it after assessing him after the flight," Merrick said of Hernandez.
"We played pretty well without him. You can't have a team revolving around one player."
"We had chance, after chance, after chance.
"Last week (against Brisbane) we had 10 corners to one. We had twice as many scoring chances against the Wanderers but we still haven't scored regularly in games. That's the frustrating part."
Wellington remains second from bottom but a smiling Merrick refuses to get downcast about their position.
"There's no point being miserable about it. There's enormous optimism there at the quality of the football they're playing," he said.