Hearfield fired up for big one

WELLINGTON Phoenix young gun Troy Hearfield is champing at the bit ahead of his side’s Hyundai A-League match at Westpac Stadium, named by coach Ricki Herbert in the pivotal attacking midfield role for the clash with Perth Glory.

WELLINGTON Phoenix young gun Troy Hearfield is champing at the bit ahead of his side-s Hyundai A-League match at Westpac Stadium, named by coach Ricki Herbert in the pivotal attacking midfield role for the clash with Perth Glory on Saturday night.

Given the opportunity with the unavailability of Brazilian guest player Fred, who returned to Brazil following the sudden death of his father midweek, Hearfield is fired up to make the most of his chance in a starting role.

“It-s obviously a very sad time for Fred and his family, and it-s not the ideal way to be promoted to the starting lineup, but I-ve got my chance and I-ll be doing everything I can to make the most of it,” Hearfield said.

“Ricki-s put his faith in me and I-m aware how important this opportunity is – not only for me but also the club and our goal to make the playoffs.”

Hearfield was the unluckiest player following the addition of Fred to the squad, having started in the midfield in the Phoenix-s 2-1 win against Sydney in round 11 before Fred took over the attacking role in the first of his three matches.

“I was disappointed, but that-s football,” Hearfield said. “When a great signing like Fred comes in then you know you-re probably going to have to make way, but I put a positive spin on it and tried to learn as much as I could from him.”

The 21-year-old aims to break open the Glory defence and create scoring chances for his strikers. He also hopes to add to his own goalscoring tally for the Phoenix, having nailed his maiden goal in the 2-0 win against the Newcastle Jets as a substitute in round 12.

“Ricki-s told me to stay high in the front three and feed as much ball to the strikers as I can. I-m really looking forward to getting at the defenders and hopefully finding the back of the net again.”

Herbert admitted picking a replacement for Fred had been tough, with Hearfield getting the nod ahead of Daniel.

“We used Troy in that role against Sydney and now he gets his chance back. He-s hungry, he-s trained really well this week, and we-re confident he can do a job for us.”

Having lost both matches to the Glory in Perth this season, the Phoenix have plenty of motivation to get one back against the West Australians. The Phoenix want to maintain their unbeaten record against the Glory at Westpac Stadium, having won 3-0 and 4-1 in both home matches last season.

But, more importantly, a win will be a real fillip to the Phoenix-s playoff hopes.

“It-s not necessarily a case of revenge – we-ve quite simply got a game that we really want to win,” said Herbert. “We-re only two points out of the four and three points on Saturday night will put us right in the thick of it.”

The Phoenix will wear black armbands in Saturday night-s match to pay their respects to Fred and his family. Herbert said the tragedy had served to reinforce team spirit.

“Everyone at the club feels for Fred – we respect him immensely. He-s a great guy on and off the pitch and the players have valued his time here. This match will be a huge dedication to Fred and his family.”

Saturday, December 13
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
Westpac Stadium
Local kickoff 7pm (5pm AEDT)
Strebre Delovski

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 3. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM and 6PR (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.premier.ticketek.co.nz

Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 22. Andrew DURANTE (captain), 25. Manny MUSCAT, 30. Scott HIGGINS (gk).

In: 5. Karl DODD (promoted), 30. Scott HIGGINS (gk, short-term injury replacement).
Out: 1. Mark PASTON (ribs – four weeks), 27. FRED (personal).
Unavailable: 17. Vince LIA (knee – season).

Perth Glory squad: 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 3.David TARKA, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Nick RIZZO, 9.Adrian TRINIDAD, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.James DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 21.Mark LEE, 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 25.Marc ANTHONY, 28.Andrija JUKIC. * three to be omitted

In: 3.David TARKA (promoted), 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA (return from injury), 21.Mark LEE (promoted), 28.Andrija JUKIC (promoted from Youth Team).
Out: 4.Jamie COYNE (calf – 3 weeks).
Unavailable: Josip MAGDIC (ankle – season), AMARAL (hamstring – season), James ROBINSON (abdomen – 3 weeks), Hayden Foxe (leg – test).

* Head-to-head: All matches (played 5): Wellington Phoenix wins 3, Perth Glory wins 2 (0 draws). In Wellington (played 2): Wellington Phoenix wins 2, Perth Glory wins 0 (0 draws).