Durante Aiming High In Perth


Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is buzzing after the birth of his first child and hopes he will still be on a high when he flies home from Perth with his team-mates on Monday.

Coach Ricki Herbert gave Durante the nod to travel a day later than the main party after the birth of his daughter Adalyn on Tuesday evening, but now it is down to business on the field.

“It was great to spend a night with them (wife Sarah and Adalyn) before flying off but I guess I will be spending the flight catching up on sleep,” Durante said with a laugh.

Turning his thoughts to Sunday-s clash with Perth Glory, Durante said he was determined the team should not leave Western Australia empty handed.

“The journey home is tough, and doubly so if you have got nothing from the game,” he said.

“I-d like to think we can get at least a point, but I want it to be three.

“I know a lot of people wrote us off before a ball had been kicked in the league, and considering what we have been through you couldn-t really blame them.

“Our off-field problems were well publicised during the off-season, and then we suffered long-term injuries to Lucas Pantelis, Vinnie Lia and Pavs (Mirjan Pavlovic).

“Despite all that we are still getting the job done and have picked up four points from our first two games.

“You have to give credit to the players and staff for that.”

Herbert got a boost earlier in the week when Nicky Ward-s red card was rescinded, allowing him to play on Sunday.

Nothing could be done about Tim Brown-s two yellow cards, despite the harshness of the second one, and he will miss the game.

Injury replacement Alex Smith could be the beneficiary of Brown-s absence with the versatile midfielder-cum-striker likely to be introduced in midfield.

With playing numbers down to a minimum through injuries and suspension Herbert took an extra player on the arduous trip and Brent Griffiths, Kiwi teenager Cameron Lindsay, Jimmy Downey and Niko Tsattalios will be fighting for the three outfield spots on the substitutes- bench.

Herbert also has to decide whether Mark Paston or Tony Warner will start between the posts for the Phoenix..

Paston had a fine game in the opening fixture on the Gold Coast, while Warner kept a clean sheet against Newcastle Jets, albeit with few saves to make.

Wellington Phoenix (likely): Mark Paston or Tony Warner; Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (C) Tony Lochhead, Nicky Ward, Alex Smith, Leo Bertos, Daniel, Dani Sanchez, Chris Greenacre.