MATCH PREVIEW | Merrick Hopeful Hernandez will be Fit to Play


Head coach Ernie Merrick is very hopeful that Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez will be fit to take his place in the Wellington Phoenix team to face Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening.

Hernandez missed the 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners in Sydney on Thursday night with a thigh strain and will undergo a fitness test before Merrick finalises his team selection.

“The injury seems to have responded to treatment but we won-t be sure till tomorrow,” Merrick said after the team completed a light training session less than 24 hours after returning from Sydney.

“He has carried the injury for two or three weeks and I want him to play, but he won-t be in the team tomorrow unless he comes through a fitness test.

“I need to put out a team that can win the game and I don-t want to carry any player.

“It is important to field the fittest, most experienced team.

“I want consistency in selection but in the real world with two games in four days and two trans-Tasman flights it doesn-t always work out.”

For the Phoenix it is the second match of four in a two-week spell and Merrick said that while there were a few players with “niggles” it was testament to his backroom team that he was hopeful of fielding the players he wants to.

“Physio Rob Lee and fitness trainer Lee Spence are doing a great job as shown by the way we finished the game against the Mariners.

“For the last 20 minutes we dominated around their penalty area.”

Asked how he managed to keep looking so calm in those last frantic 20 minutes when so many chances went begging, Merrick smiled.

“No matter what happens Ii am trying to think ahead to make sure of our strategy,” he said.

“The law of averages says that things should starting working for us in front of goal but I-m starting to think that Newton and all those mathematicians are wrong!”

The game kicks off at 7pm.