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Opals prospect succumbs to knee injury
Laine Clark
16:54 AEST Tue May 21 2013

Days after being labelled a top priority for the Australian Opals under new basketball coach Brendan Joyce's reign, Erin Phillips has succumbed to a knee injury.

Phillips, 28, has been ruled out for at least the first month of the WNBA season after suffering a knee cartilage tear ahead of defending champion Indiana's opener against San Antonio on Saturday (AEST).

Indiana staff fear the Australian guard may miss up to six weeks.

Phillips was a key to Indiana's 2012 WNBA championship win - averaging 10.1 points in 10 playoff games - after missing London Olympic selection.

It was enough to warrant a plea from Joyce after he was appointed Opals coach.

"Erin Phillips is a top priority to bring back into the (Opals) fold," he said.

"I will be encouraging her to come back. She is a sensational player."

There were reports Phillips had been "punished" by former Australian women's coach Carrie Graf for not committing enough to the Opals' cause in the countdown to London.

Now Phillips looms as an Opals strike weapon with veteran guard and four-time Olympian Kristi Harrower, 38, weighing up her international future.

Opals redemption was not Phillips' top priority after being added to a growing Indiana injury list.

Phillips cited the plight of teammate Shyra Ely-Gash, who will miss her second straight WNBA season to injury, as she steeled herself for a comeback.

"This aint NOTHING compared to what my team mate @ShyShy43 is going through!!" Phillips tweeted on Tuesday.

"This is just a small bend in the road and I will be back before u know it. I'm in GREAT hands."