Merrick plays down training ground spat


Wellington Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick has played down a training ground spat between midfielders Vince Lia and Alex Rodriguez.

The incident occurred during an 11 v 11 training match when Rodriguez made a heavy challenge on Lia, which saw the latter get up and push his fellow midfielder to the ground.

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Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante then raced in to quickly separate the pair with Lia clearly seen pointing a finger at the Spaniard and training continued.

Asked about the altercation after the session, Merrick didn’t seem too concerned.

“I think there’s a lot of determination to do well and compete,” the Phoenix boss said.

“That’s fairly normal at training and I’m actually glad to see that. I’d rather see that than everyone being good mates and losing 3-0 again.”

This spat comes after a tough couple of weeks for Phoenix, who have lost back-to-back home matches 3-0 to lose top spot on the ladder.

They are currently fourth, two points off the top with three rounds remaining, starting with Sunday’s trip to Melbourne City FC. 

Key midfielder Albert Riera returns from suspension but defender Ben Sigmund is likely to miss a second straight game with a quad injury.