Men’s Match Preview: Wellington Phoenix vs. Perth Glory

The Wellington Phoenix are welcoming back four of their All Whites for Saturday’s Isuzu UTE A-League match against Perth Glory.

Vice-captain Oli Sail, midfielders Clayton Lewis and Ben Old and forward Ben Waine returned to Sydney on Wednesday after representing New Zealand in their first two matches of the Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament in Qatar.

Sail and Lewis played 90 minutes against both Papua New Guinea and Fiji, while Waine started against Fiji after coming off the bench to score the match winner against PNG. Old made a late cameo in the opening match.

Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay told media on Friday that the quartet are in good spirits.

“They had their first session back yesterday with the group, which was just a light session after a 14-hour flight back from Qatar,” Talay said.

“They were in good shape yesterday. I know they wanted to be involved in the session but we wanted to be mindful of sitting on a plane for such a long time and maybe not getting the sleep that they needed.

“They did certain parts of the session and then we took them out just to make sure they’re fresh and available for the game on Saturday.”

Talay says all four might have to end up starting the game against Perth, as key defender Tim Payne has traded places and joined the All Whites in Qatar and the team’s casualty ward has doubled.

Pacy forward Jaushua Sotirio has a grade one hamstring strain and will be side-lined for four weeks, centre back Josh Laws, who started in midfield against Newcastle last week, will be out of action for a fortnight with an ankle injury, and veteran striker Gary Hooper may miss the remainder of the season with a torn calf.

“Six weeks is the furthest point that we can go with that injury,” Talay said. “Does it end up being a four week or a five week [injury] where we get him available to play again? I’m not too sure.

“We have to take it day-by-day with Gary but at this stage it’s looking very difficult for him to be involved for the back end of the season.”

Captain Alex Rufer is out for the rest of the season and beyond after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and young forward Oskar van Hattum remains side-lined with a hamstring strain. Attacking midfielder Reno Piscopo is also no guarantee to return from his calf injury.

“If he’s involved he’ll be very limited in the minutes he gives us.

“Is it one of those ones that we give him an extra couple of days and make sure that he’s a lot closer to be where he needs to be for the game on Wednesday or do we take the risk and use him for this game?

“It’s one of those where we weigh up is it worth risking him to get what we need to get out of this game.

“It’ll come down to how he’s feeling, what he can give us.

“I’d like him to be available, but if he’s not we’ll go without him until Wednesday.”

Ufuk Talay will be able to call on hard-working forward David Ball for Saturday’s match at Leichhardt Oval, after he missed the defeat to Newcastle Jets through suspension.

The game against Perth is the start of a testing 19-day spell for the Phoenix, who are scheduled to play six matches before returning home to New Zealand.

“It’s not going to be easy. We’ve got a few injuries that are probably going to hurt us at this stage with the amount of games that we have coming up.

“We’ll see how we get through it and we’ll just take it game by game.”

The Glory sit bottom of the A-League ladder after picking up just one point from four straight games in Perth. It led to the club parting ways with Richard Garcia, with Ruben Zadkovich named interim head coach through until the end of the season.

The round 20 Isuzu UTE A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory is scheduled to kick-off at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney at 5:05pm AEDT (7:05pm NZT) and will be broadcast LIVE on Sky Sport 3 & 7 in New Zealand and on Paramount+ in Australia.

Most recent meeting:
30 May 2021 – Wellington Phoenix 2 Perth Glory 2

All-time head-to-head: Phoenix 16W, Glory 20W & 9D.

Wellington Phoenix squad: 3. Matthew BOZINOVSKI, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. James MCGARRY, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Gael SANDOVAL, 8. Ben OLD, 9. David BALL, 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14. Alex RUFER (c), 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Callan ELLIOT, 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 23. Clayton LEWIS, 30. Henry GRAY (gk), 31. Kurtis MOGG, 32. George OTT, 33. Finn SURMAN, 34. Jackson MANUEL, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 43. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 88. Gary HOOPER
Unavailable: 6. Tim PAYNE (international duty), 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (hamstring injury), 14. Alex RUFER (season-ending knee injury), 21. Joshua LAWS (ankle injury), 43. Oskar VAN HATTUM (hamstring injury), 88. Gary HOOPER (calf injury)
Doubtful: 10. Reno PISCOPO (calf injury)