Durante and North reunited in Wellington

WELLINGTON Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante has special reason to look forward to Saturday night’s match against Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium.

WELLINGTON Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante has special reason to look forward to Saturday night-s match against Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium.

Australian international Jade North, Durante-s defensive partner from the Newcastle Jets- Hyundai A-League championship-winning team in 2007/08, will be on hand for the Phoenix-s home match and could well reunite with his former Jets teammate in the Phoenix-s backline to face the Sydneysiders.

“It-ll be very exciting to have Jade onboard finally,” Durante said. “There-s been a lot of anticipation around his arrival and he-ll finally be here. Hopefully he steps into the squad on Saturday and does the job for us.”

North arrives in Wellington today (Friday).

Durante does not believe the short turnaround before the game will be a problem for his mate, who has been on international duty with the Socceroos in Europe. While Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert is yet to settle on his 15-man match-day squad, Durante is certain North will be ready if called upon.

Herbert-s thinking will also be influenced by the close on-field partnership Durante and North developed at Newcastle.

“If he gets picked to play his first game at home in front of a new home crowd I think Jade will get through on pure emotion and adrenalin,” Durante said. “He-ll be excited to play and to get some minutes under his belt.

“Hopefully Jade and I will be able to continue the good partnership we built a few years ago.”

Manny Muscat returns to Phoenix duty after playing for Malta in two Euro 2012 qualifying matches and is likely to be included in the squad. Goalkeeper Mark Paston has been bothered by a neck strain and will undergo a fitness test on Saturday morning before a decision is made on his availability. Young gun Danny Vukovic will wear the gloves in his first start for the Phoenix should Paston be forced out of the Sydney match.

Combative midfielder Vince Lia is also under an injury cloud and will have a fitness test on Saturday morning.

Durante said the Phoenix were blessed with a talented squad of players.

“Whoever comes in will be able to do the job. We-ve got such good depth in the squad this year that whoever steps in will be more the capable.”

Sydney FC have their own injury problems, with key men Nick Carle, Terry McFlynn and Alex Brosque out of Saturday-s match at the Phoenix-s fortress.

However, Durante said the Phoenix would not underestimate the defending champions, who currently languish at the bottom of the table.

“They-re a quality team, they just haven-t found their rhythm yet. We definitely can-t take them lightly. Although we-re at home and we-re very confident at home, we can-t get too cocky going into this game.”

The key would be establishing dominance early and putting in a complete team effort – something that had not happened in the Phoenix-s two recent losses on the road.

Durante has continued his great form on from last season-s sensational campaign, during which he played every minute of every match, and has led by example to be the Phoenix-s standout so far this season.

“I-m fairly happy with how I-m going but there-s always room for improvement. It-s still very early in the season and once all the combinations in the team start gelling together the individual performances will start standing out a lot more.

“It-s fair to say a few people are off their game -myself included at times – but it-s early days and we-ve still got to find our feet. Once we do we-re going to be a real force in this competition.”

Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Local kick-off:
7.15pm (5.15pm AEST)
Referee: Chris Beath

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, FS3 HD & on Sky Sport 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 1035AM The Radio Network (Wellington), SBS Digital Radio 6 (Sydney). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.co.nz.

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, 10. Oscar Roberto CORNEJO, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER
*three to be omitted*

In: Manny MUSCAT (return from international duty), Oscar Roberto CORNEJO (promoted), Jade NORTH (new signing)
Out: Nil
Unavailable: Reece CROWTHER (gk, ribs – 5 weeks)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL 3. Stephan KELLER, 5. Hayden FOXE, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. Bruno CAZARINE, 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 16. Terry ANTONIS, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT
*one to be omitted*

In: Nil
Out: Terry MCFLYNN (Hamstring – 1 week), Alex BROSQUE (Ankle – 1 week), Nick CARLE (toe), Antony GOLEC, Matthew JURMAN
Unavailable: Nil

Head-to-Head: Played 10: Wellington Phoenix 3 wins 3, Sydney FC 6 wins (1 draw)