With a few games under his belt after injury Vince Lia feels at home again in the midfield and is determined to help the Wellington Phoenix cause an upset by taking three points from Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium tomorrow.
Lia is under no illusions about the tough task the Phoenix face. As well as leading the competition, and being nine points ahead of the third-placed side, the Mariners have become something of a bogey team to the Wellington side, winning five of the 10 games they have played in the capital, including a 1-0 win earlier this season.
“They are a tough team, no doubt about that,” Lia, who has been with the Phoenix since it was formed, said.
“Graham Arnold has them well organised and they are hard to break down.
“Not many teams come here and do as well as they do, but we have no choice but to go for it because we really need to get maximum points from our two home games this week as it doesn-t get any easier with away matches at Brisbane and Victory to come.”
Teenager Tyler Boyd is likely to get his first Phoenix start at the expense of Belgian international Stein Huysegems after making an impression off the bench in recent games.
Boyd, 17, and Louis Fenton, 19, have made a big impression on Lia and he is looking forward to seeing how they fare together.
“We-ve seen what Louis is capable of over the last couple of months and Boydie has begun to have an impact on games when he has come on, Lia said.
“They have injected pace into our attack and that is something we haven-t really had in the last couple of years.
“They are the future of the club and it is good to see them given an opportunity.”
After missing much of pre-season with injury Lia is starting to hit his straps in midfield and enjoying playing again.
“It has taken a couple of weeks to get my confidence and sharpness back,” he said.
“I-ve got a good understanding with Manny and hopefully we can provide a foundation for an attacking display.”
Lia laughs when asked what he thought of a suggestion in a recent newspaper column that he should be switched to left back.
“It-s obvious whoever wrote that doesn-t know much about football,” he said with a grin.
“To be honest I-m not surprised by anything that is written any more. Often it is just a bit of a laugh.
“If you want to take it personally it could have an effect but it doesn-t bother me.
“Me at left back? Is he having a laugh? I don-t even want to play right back if I can help it.”
A likely Phoenix line-up: Mark Paston, Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (captain), Tony Lochhead, Tyler Boyd, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Louis Fenton, Dani Sanchez, Jeremy Brockie. Substitutes (from); Griffin McMaster, Benji Totori, Stein Huysegems, Alex Smith, Cameron Lindsay.
The match kicks off at 5pm.