Injured Wellington Phoenix striker Paul Ifill has a message for his team-mates as they head into the vital final stages of the Hyundai A-League competition, starting on Sunday against Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium.
“Get us into the playoffs and give me a chance of playing again this season,” was the message from the Barbados international.
While Ifill admits his chances of pulling on a Phoenix playing strip again this season, following the leg and ankle injury he sustained against Newcastle Jets in mid-December, are slim at best, he says it would give him something to aim for as he goes through the monotonous rehabilitation period.
“When you are doing something like aqua jobbing, which is totally boring, you need to focus elsewhere. I know my chances are slim but . . . you never know.”
Ifill is much more positive about the team-s chances of making the top six, and playoff football, for the second successive season.
“I think we-ll need to win our home games and pick up a couple of points away, We are strong at home and have some difficult away games coming up but we have been looking okay in the last few games. There is no reason why we can-t make it.”
Coach Ricki Herbert agrees with Ifill-s assessment of the challenge facing his team but is also optimistic.
“With a bit of luck we could have got more than the one point we did from our last two away games.
“Our lack of success away from Westpac Stadium has been well documented but there have been some good signs recently.
The most encouraging of those signs was the performance the Phoenix turned in when beating Melbourne Victory in their lst home game.
“That is the level we have to aim for in our remaining games. We started in the same vein in the two away games following that win and with a little luck could have got the breakthrough early on.
“If you can get an early goal it lifts everyone and that is what we will be looking for against Perth.”
After a run of injuries and suspensions meant a changed squad week by week, Herbert has had the luxury of a settled squad for the past three games and has named an unchanged squad with the addition of Argentinian attacking midfielder Oscar Roberto Cornejo as cover for New Zealand international Leo Bertos who has a groin problem that is being managed on a week to week basis by the club-s medical team led by physiotherapist Adam Crump.
The game kicks off at 5pm.
Wellington Phoenix squad:
Phoenix: Danny Vukovic, Troy Hearfield, Andrew Durante (captain), Ben Sigmund, Tony Lochhead, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Tim Brown, Nicky Ward, Leo Bertos, Marco Rojas, Dylan Macallister, Chris Greenacre, Daniel Cortes, Oscar Roberto Cornejo, Reece Crowther.