ADRIAN CACERES is determined to make the most of his chance for the Wellington Phoenix tomorrow night in their Hyundai A-League 2009/10 round 20 match against the Central Coast Mariners.
The Argentina-born Australian is a shot to start for the Phoenix at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford after Brazilian playmaker Daniel Cortes was deemed unable to travel after suffering a groin strain.
After a series of good performances off the bench for the Phoenix – most notably in the Phoenix-s last match, a 1-1 draw away to Adelaide United – Caceres said he would relish the chance to start against the Mariners if coach Ricki Herbert called on him.
“Definitely, I-m really excited,” the 27-year-old attacking midfielder said. “It was hard for me when I first joined the Phoenix because I came to Wellington with a bit of an injury. But my aim was always to prove what I could do off the bench and to offer something to the team if I was called on to make an impact.”
Caceres admitted the Phoenix-s lack of a youth team had made his return to full fitness difficult.
“It-s meant that I haven-t had the regular and longer gametime that I might have when I was coming back from injury. If Ricki calls on me to start I-ll give it everything but it-s possible that 90 minutes might be beyond me at this stage.
“What I will do is give my all and run my backside off for as long as Ricki needs me to.”
Caceres was dynamite against Adelaide, his jinking runs at the Reds- defence ultimately leading to the leveller. While his ability to make an impact late in games is clear, Caceres- focus against the Mariners would be at causing havoc from the opening whistle if he starts.
“We need to get the win on Thursday night, that-s the key. My role is to stay busy while I-m on the field and be influential by creating goals or scoring them. On a personal note, I-m focusing on turning in a good personal performance. Given the quality we have in this squad, if I can do all the things I need to do then the rest will take care of itself.”
Although the Phoenix are ninth on the ladder, three points in Gosford will keep them well and truly in the hunt for a playoffs spot.
“We-ve got nothing but the win on our minds,” said Caceres. “I don-t think we deserve to be where we are on the table given that we-ve outplayed almost every team in the competition. But we have failed to put teams away when they-ve been on the ropes and we need to make sure that we-re turning dominance into wins.
“If we win and I play a part, then great. But it-s about the team and getting three points – that-s what-ll make me happy.”
Caceres is also happy at his new club following a nomadic career. His most recent club prior to joining the Phoenix is the one he and his teammates will take on in Gosford on Thursday.
“I have been at quite a few clubs but Wellington has been great. It-s well managed and we-ve got a great squad of players. I-d like to think I could stay at the Phoenix beyond this season but here and now all I-m doing is concentrating on helping get us into the playoffs.”
Thursday night-s match between the Phoenix and the Mariners kicks off at 6pm AEDST (8pm NZDST).
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. DIEGO, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Adrian CACERES, 17. Vince LIA, 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Costa BARBAROUSES, 40. Liam REDDY (gk)
In: Manny MUSCAT (return from suspension)
Out: DANIEL (groin 1 -week)
Unavailable: Mark PASTON (leg – season) Ben SIGMUND (suspended – 1 week), Chris GREENACRE (leg – 1 week)