Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is banking on a settled squad to continue his team’s unbeaten run when they play Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is banking on a settled squad to continue his team-s unbeaten run when they play Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
While the versatile Leo Bertos is likely to return to the squad, Merrick wants to make as few changes as possible.
“There won-t be much change to the squad,” Merrick said.
“The long-term injuries to Paul Ifill and Louis Fenton don-t help, but we are on a four-match unbeaten run and I want to keep the squad fairly consistent.
“I think I will bring Leo in because he can play a range of positions - forward, midfield and full back.
“It is also good to have options up front.”
Merrick was disappointed that the Phoenix started slowly in their first game against Victory this season and ended up on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line.
“They were fortunate with a couple of their goals but we didn-t start well at AAMI Park and found ourselves 3-0 down after 31 minutes,” he said.
“After that we got a lot of decent possession, which is how we got back to 3-2, but we can-t afford to let a team like Victory to get away like that.”
As usual Merrick early in the week conducted a video debrief on the 1-1 draw with the Mariners.
“We are always working on creating goal-scoring opportunities from very industrious midfield play, but we didn-t create enough against Mariners because we didn-t play our best football.
“You have to bear in mind though that the Mariners are a tough team to score against because they have two strong banks of four in their own half for the opposition to get through.
“Victory are a different proposition as they virtually play with four strikers and we have had to sit down and work out what we are going to do with that..
“It is important to get some domination in midfield because that is our strength with Albert Riera and Vince Lia playing great football along with Carlos (Hernandez) almost back to his best, and Kenny Cunningham working hard.
“It is also good having youngsters like (Matthew) Ridenton and (Jason) Hicks able to come on.
“I think Ridenton has a big future and this is the type of match he might get some game time in because he has been going so well in training.
“On paper Brisbane and Victory would have the best squads in the competition, but we have some good, strong players as well and it should be an exciting clash.
“At home, with hopefully a big crowd behind us, we will be giving it everything we-ve got.”
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Saturday, 18 January 2014 Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory Westpac Stadium, Wellington Kick-off: 7:30pm local (5:30pm AEDT) Referee: Adam Kersey Assistant Referee 1: Mark Rule Assistant Referee 2: Jan-Hendrik Hintz Fourth Official: Matthew Conger
TV Broadcast: 5.00pm (AEDT) Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD.Sky Sport 3 (New Zealand).
Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio VIC, 936 ABC Hobart and ABC Northern Tasmania Grandstand Digital Online/Mobile phone app
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To purchase tickets visit www.wellingtonphoenix.com/tickets
Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1.Glen Moss (GK), 2.Manny Muscat, 5.Michael Boxall, 7.Leo Bertos, 9.Kenny Cunningham, 10.Stein Huysegems, 11.Jeremy Brockie, 12.Tyler Boyd, 13.Albert Riera, 15.Jason Hicks, 17.Vince Lia, 18.Ben Sigmund, 20.Lewis Italiano (GK), 21.Carlos Hernandez, 22.Andrew Durante (c), 23.Matthew Ridenton, 24.Roy Krishna. **One to be omitted** Ins: 7.Leo Bertos (promoted) Outs: Nil. Unavailable: 3.Reece Caira (international duty - Young Socceroos), 8.Paul Ifill (ruptured Achilles, 8 to 12 months), 16.Louis Fenton (shoulder injury, season).
Melbourne Victory Squad: 1.Nathan COE (gk), 2.Pablo CONTRERAS, 3.Adama TRAORE, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Gui FINKLER, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 14.James TROISI, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James JEGGO, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Adrian LEIJER, 26.Jordan BROWN, 27.Christopher CRISTALDO, 31.Dylan MURNANE 32.Milos RIDESIC. **One to be omitted** Ins: 2.Pablo CONTRERAS (returns from suspension), 27.Christopher CRISTALDO (promoted) Outs: 13.Andrew NABBOUT (concussion) Unavailable: 4.Nick ANSELL (international duty - Young Socceroos), 5.Mark MILLIGAN (knee, 4-6 weeks).11.Connor PAIN (international duty - Young Socceroos), 15.Mitch NICHOLS (knee - 1 week), 24.Scott GALLOWAY (international duty - Young Socceroos), 25.Jason GERIA (international duty - Young Socceroos)