MATCH PREVIEW | No Changes Likely for Phoenix


Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is likely to stick with the starting XI that beat Central Coast Mariners 4-1 in Gosford on Friday when they take on Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Thursday night.

As the A-League heads towards its climax, points become vital in every game and Thursday-s is definitely in that category.

Only a point separates fifth-placed Adelaide and seventh-placed Phoenix and Merrick admits such fixtures take on added importance with the winner in essence getting “double points”.

A feast of goals is on the cards with Adelaide having netted 33 times – the same as leaders Brisbane Roar – while the Phoenix are close behind with 30 goals after a slow start to the season.

The Phoenix went straight to Adelaide after the big win over the Mariners and Merrick flew in Jason Hicks and Hamish Watson to join the squad but neither is likely to play.

“We brought those boys over as extra cover for injuries and illness and to add quality to our training sessions,” Merrick said.

Merrick was delighted with his team-s response to going behind against the Mariners and will be asking for more of the slick, attacking passing game that turned the match in his team-s favour.

When the teams met at Auckland-s Eden Park earlier this season the Phoenix won 2-1 in an entertaining game, but that result will mean nothing when the whistle goes on Thursday.

“We have to continue playing positively as we have done for most of the season, apart from one hiccup against Melbourne Heart,” Merrick said.

“That sort of result happens to every team at some point, even the best clubs in the EPL.

“You just have to learn from it and get back to doing what you do best.”

A likely Phoenix starting XI: Glen Moss, Michael Boxall, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante (captain), Reece Caira, Vince Lia, Manny Muscat, Tyler Boyd, Carlos Hernandez, Kenny Cunningham, Stein Huysegems.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 9.30pm NZT on Sky Sport 3.