Muscat Doubt For Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has not ruled out Manny Muscat taking his place at right back against Adelaide United on Friday night.

The defender, whose wife Rebecca is due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day now, made an unexpected return from Melbourne last Sunday to play in Wellington’s 3-1 win over Melbourne Heart before returning to the Victorian capital early the following day.

And a similar scenario could unfold later this week although it’s still too early for Herbert to tell.

“We will give him a little bit of peace and see where he is tomorrow,” Herbert said.

“I think it’s probably a lot closer to the other side of things happening for him. But the good thing is it’s only an hour flight and we can get him back pretty quickly as well.

“Let’s wait and see. I don’t want to make any promises. We know where he is at and if we can get him fantastic.”

Vince Lia is once again on standby to slot into the back four should Muscat be unavailable.

While the Maltese international hopes to be celebrating fatherhood, fellow defender Tony Lochhead will chalk up his 100th game for the Phoenix on Friday night.

Following in the footsteps of Tim Brown and Daniel, Lochhead is the third member of the inaugural Phoenix squad to bring up his century.

The New Zealand left back has fond memories of his debut game for the Wellington club in 2007.

“It was the game against Melbourne Victory. We were down 2-0 and we came back and tied it up and there was a really good turnout (at Westpac Stadium),” he said.

“It’s really good to get to 100 games.”

The first season provided another milestone for Lochhead. In round six he scored in the 4-1 win over Perth Glory – his only goal for the club to-date.

With Muscat having broken his goal-scoring duck in his 85th game for the Phoenix a couple of weeks ago against Newcastle Jets attention has now turned to Lochhead whose barren run stretches to 93 matches.

“I got reminded a couple of days ago that I’m probably due another one,” he said with a smile.

“I probably had a good chance in the last game and I blew it. I blazed it over the top. I’ll see if I get any more opportunities and hopefully put one of those away.”