RICKI HERBERT will continue to tinker with his squad when the Wellington Phoenix take on the Queensland Roar in a 2008 Pre-Season Cup match on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.
One change has been forced on Herbert with the season-ending injury suffered by makeshift right back Vince Lia in last weekend-s 1-0 win against the Central Coast Mariners, but the Wellington coach confirmed his intentions regardless to give every member of his squad a run in the lead-up to the Phoenix-s Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season opener against the Roar on August 17.
“This weekend-s match is just another step, really, and we-re not going to change from what we-ve decided to do leading into August 17,” Herbert said.
“It was a good start for us at Westpac Stadium last weekend against the Mariners and Sunday-s match against the Roar is another opportunity to give some other players a run, look at a couple of other combinations and move our training schedule ahead another week.”
Troy Hearfield was used at right back when Lia was forced off shortly after halftime against the Mariners. Lia has since been ruled out for the season with ligament damage in his left knee.
Herbert said he planned to push Hearfield up into his accustomed midfield role against the Roar, alongside Brazilian playmaker Daniel and Kiwi flyer Leo Bertos. That suggests Ben Sigmund will have a big part to play in the Phoenix-s back four at Stockland Park on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.
“Troy-s a decent shot to start this weekend, maybe in the three behind the striker, with Ben Sigmund perhaps dropping in at right back.”
The loss of Lia for the season has been offset by the signing of New Zealand international and former English Championship defender David Mulligan.
“The club carries on. It-s unfortunate for Vinnie from a personal point of view and we had high hopes for him at right back this season. But we-ve got some options there to look at and that-s the focus as the moment.”
Mark Paston is also in line for an opportunity to press incumbent first-choice goalkeeper Glen Moss for the starting stopper-s job when the competition proper gets under way for the Phoenix on August 17 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Striker Adam Kwasnik is also likely to get a run off the bench on Sunday.
“Along the stretch it-s important we give as many members of the squad as possible the chance to play,” Herbert said.
“We-ve got 21 players in the squad and we-ve got three competitive [2008 Pre-Season Cup] games to integrate them and given them the right amount of time on the pitch.
“So, yes, I think there-ll be some different personnel used. Troy-s had a little bit of time already, Adam-s a key signing for us, Vaughan Coveny needs a little more time on the pitch and Mark needs time between the sticks.
“Jeremy Christie is back from suspension, Tim Brown-s almost spot on now [after injury], then there-s Greg Draper and Costa Barbarouses – the list goes on. It-s not easy to put everyone in but we certainly need to give it consideration.”
The Phoenix lead Group B in the 2008 Pre-Season Cup standings alongside Sydney FC, who beat the Roar 2-1 last weekend.
2008 Pre-Season Cup – Round two
Queensland Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Sunday 27 July 2008
2.30pm AEST (4.30pm NZST)
Stockland Park, Sunshine Coast
Referee: Peter Green
Queensland Roar squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 12. Tahj MINNIECON, 13. Chris GROSSMAN, 14. Ben GRIFFIN, 15. Matt McKAY, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 20. Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21.Tom OAR, 22. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Tim SMITS * (three to be omitted)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8, Vaughan COVENY, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 12. Richard JOHNSON, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 24. Andrew DURANTE (captain), 27. Adam KWASNIK