Herbert takes softly-softly approach with squad

WELLINGTON Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert will keep his squad in cotton wool before Sunday’s Hyundai A-League 2010/11 match against Melbourne Heart as he looks to manage the workload of his players.

WELLINGTON Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert will keep his squad in cotton wool before Sunday-s Hyundai A-League 2010/11 match against Melbourne Heart as he looks to manage the workload of his players.

The Phoenix played out a goalless draw with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Wednesday night just days after beating Sydney FC 2-1 at Westpac Stadium. Sunday-s match against the Heart will be the Phoenix-s third in eight days and Herbert is opting to play it safe with his squad.

“We-ve got the next 48 hours to decide who should play (against Heart at AAMI Park) and we-ll look to maximize the opportunities for the players to recover and freshen up. Our next two training sessions will be pretty light and hopefully we-ll have the full travelling squad to choose from.”

Only Mirjan Pavlovic is unavailable for the Heart match, the young striker dropping out of the travelling squad to join the Olyroos for a four-nation tournament in Vietnam.

There were no injury concerns within the camp aside from some tired legs following Wednesday night-s excellent performance against the Victory.

The Phoenix bossed the hosts throughout with their slick passing game, ability to keep possession and rock-solid defence.

Herbert said that while his men were upbeat following an extremely assured performance, there was some disappointment in that they were unable to win the game.

“We dominated long, long periods of the game. We were efficient, created some really good scoring opportunities and might have won it. The fact that there is some disappointment from the players is a really good sign because it shows the bar is being lifted all the time.”

Herbert had special praise for the three new players in his squad, with the integral in the Phoenix-s performance. Danny Vukovic was confident in goal in his second game for the Phoenix, former Victory midfielder Nick Ward was a constant menace to his former teammates and defender Jade North shone in his first start for the club.

“Those three players are strong candidates to be in the starting XI each week and that-s testament to their quality given that all three have only been with us a short time. The depth is there and we have competition within the squad. The blend is good and things will continue to grow. There are good signs.”

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER * two to be omitted*

In: Vince LIA (return from injury), Dylan MACALLISTER Out: Mirjan PAVLOVIC (Olyroos international duty) Unavailable: Mirjan PAVLOVIC (Olyroos international duty), Reece CROWTHER (gk, ribs - 3 weeks)