Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is banking on his team to put last week’s disappointing loss In Adelaide behind them against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday and continue their push for a finals spot.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is banking on his team to put last week-s disappointing loss In Adelaide behind them against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday and continue their push for a finals spot.
Merrick wasn-t hiding his disappointment at what was a below-par performance from a Phoenix side that has played some exciting football this season but remained upbeat about the future.
“We-ve broken a few hoodoos this season,” Merrick said after the team-s final training session on the match venue.
“We-ve had away wins, won in Melbourne for the first time, beat the champions Central Coast 4-1 away and thrashed Victory.
“I have a team that can go through horrendous situations and still bounce back because of their character and team spirit.
“That is why I was really disappointed last week. This team is prepared to fight back from 1-0 or 2-0 down, but when the third goal went in at Adelaide I felt that on the night we just weren-t the team I thought we should be.
“In saying that, it is the only flat spot that I have seen this season and don-t expect to see another.”
The Phoenix- season has been blighted through injuries with Paul Ifill, Louis Fenton, Albert Riera and Reece Caira having their season ended early.
Going into Sunday-s game Merrick is far from certain that his Costa Rican internationals Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham will be able to line up.
Hernandez has been carrying a quad strain in recent weeks and Saturday was the first time he has been able to train with the team this week.
Cunningham suffered a foot injury in the loss to Adelaide United and only returned to training on Thursday.
“Kenny and Carlos haven-t done too much this week apart from rehab. They went okay today but I will wait and see how they are tomorrow.
“Both are likely to play a part so long as Carlos pulls up okay.”
On the plus side Merrick said he was pleased that the All Whites who returned from Japan on Friday had come back fresher than he expected.
With Manny Muscat suspended after being sent off in Adelaide 17-year-old Matthew Ridenton is likely to come into the midfield, while Josh Brindell-South, who impressed on his debut in the 3-2 win at Newcastle will take over from the injured Caira at left back.
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory Sunday 9 March, 5.00pm at Westpac Stadium. Get your tickets here.