Apart from dealing with their inconsistent form, the LionsXII have also been hit by the news that captain Isa Halim will miss the rest of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) season.
The tenacious midfielder, 27, is facing three months on the sidelines after deciding to undergo surgery on a spur in his left heel and repair a slight tear in his Achilles tendon. That means he will not recover in time for the defending champions' last fixture at T-Team on June 25.
"Ending my season early was a very difficult decision to make," said the Singapore international who has been taking painkillers to mask the discomfort since his ankle flared up in December.
"But I have to be honest with myself and be fair to the team. Playing through the pain has kept me from being at my best."
A key member of the LionsXII since their 2012 inception, Isa's aggressive patrolling in midfield was a key ingredient in their title win last year. But as he struggled with the pain in his heel, he has completed just five out of the side's nine games so far.
In his absence, vice-captain Safuwan Baharudin will wear the armband starting from PKNS' visit to Jalan Besar tomorrow, with goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud serving as his deputy.
Isa was initially expected to postpone surgery until after the Republic's ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup campaign at the end of this year. But LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad explained the niggly injury had to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
"If he had kept on playing, he would not be at 100 per cent," Fandi, 51, told The Straits Times.