Macarthur's preparations for the upcoming A-League Men campaign have suffered a major setback with captain and goalkeeper Adam Federici announcing his immediate retirement.
The 36-year-old, who was named successor to Mark Milligan as Bulls captain in September ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, has called time on his career due to injury.
"While I would've loved to lead the Bulls this season, my body is in a different position and cannot continue," Federici said.
"Through my journey I have played with wonderful coaches, players and clubs and I'm grateful that I got to finish my career on my home turf."
The news is a huge blow for the Bulls, with Milligan having reportedly quit an assistant coaching role earlier in the week for as yet unexplained reasons.
Big things were expected for Ante Milicic's team after a busy off-season recruiting drive including the captures of Johnny Warren medallist Ulises Davila, Socceroos striker Tomi Juric, ex-Melbourne City winger Craig Noone and exciting former Central Coast playmaker Daniel De Silva.
It's unclear now however what effect Federici and Milligan's exits will have on the Bulls' preparations.
Capped 16 times for the Socceroos, Federici spent most of his career in Europe including an 11-season spell with Reading in the English Premier League and Championship.
He returned to Sydney for Macarthur's inaugural A-League Men season in 2020, making 28 appearances in the Bulls' first season.
"I am honoured to have been able to represent Australia and my time with the national team will stay fondly in my memories forever," Federici said.
"For now, my focus is to work on recovery, but I look forward to what the game has in store for me going forward."
21-year-old former Western Sydney shot-stopper Nick Suman is Macarthur's only custodian for the upcoming season, which begins next month, leaving Milicic scrambling to find a replacement.
"It's a sad day for Bulls fans knowing Adam won't be part of the squad this season, but as a club we will help and support him through his rehab," Milicic said.
Australian Associated Press