Phoenix enjoying C&C after R&R

CONFIDENCE and consistency – the Wellington Phoenix are finally starting to enjoy good doses of both.

CONFIDENCE and consistency – the Wellington Phoenix are finally starting to enjoy good doses of both.

Ready to resume their Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign following the Fifa international break, the Phoenix head into Sunday-s round eight showdown with the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford having kicked their season back into life with a win against Sydney FC and a gutsy 2-2 draw last up with the Newcastle Jets.

Skipper Andrew Durante said the Phoenix-s recent good performances had reignited the spirit in the team.

“We-ve picked up four points out of the six on offer in our last two games and the boys are full of confidence. I think the most important thing is we-ve pretty much kept the same starting XI for two matches in a row and that consistency is going a long way for us.”

The Phoenix travel to Gosford with the bulk of the squad from the matches against Sydney FC and the Jets back on deck. Midfielder Jeremy Christie drops out with a minor groin strain and has been replaced by Jon McKain, while illness will keep Richard Johnson home in Wellington. Johnson has been replaced by the now fit Leo Bertos, who played 90 minutes in the Phoenix-s 5-1 win against New Zealand Football Championship side Hawke-s Bay in a midweek training match.

Also back in the squad is goalkeeper Glen Moss, who has sufficiently recovered from a side strain and is likely to take a spot on the bench.

Durante said the international break had proved invaluable in making sure key players were fully fit.

“It-s been a great week. The break has given a few players, like Mossy and Leo, the time and opportunity to get injuries right and to come back 100 per cent, so it-s been a bonus for us.”

Head coach Ricki Herbert said continuity in selection had been a pleasing outcome from recent good performances.

“It-s tough, too, because we-ve still got some decent players looking to get back in, but it-s up to the guys we-ve selected the keep the season moving forward for us.

“The work during the break has been good and the players have picked up where they left off. I-m pleased with the attitude, confidence and belief around the squad. While those things offer no guarantees in terms of winning football matches, they-ve certainly helped us over the last few weeks and it-s clear what we were lacking at the start of the season.”

The Mariners are also on a high, having battled back from a three-goal deficit to draw 3-3 with Adelaide United in their last outing.

Durante said that result was indicative of the spirit the Phoenix would have to overcome at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday.

“Central Coast are good every season because they-ve got a really good work ethic. They may not be the most attractive footballing team in the whole competition but they really give it everything and everyone covers for each other.

“If we-re not on our game can get punished, so we-ll just try to concentrate on what we do well – play nice, attractive football and hopefully get the result.”

Sunday, October 19
Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix
Bluetongue Stadium
Local kickoff 3pm AEDT (5pm NZDT)
Ben Williams

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Coast FM (Gosford) 96.3FM and Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM.

Central Coast Mariners squad: 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 6. David D’APUZZO, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 10. Adrian CACERES, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 13. Paul O’GRADY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI, 23. Mile JEDINAK, 30. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 40. Mark BOSNICH (gk). *two to be omitted.

In: 7. John HUTCHINSON (Returns from Injury), 20. Danny VUKOVIC (Returns from Suspension), 40. Mark BOSNICH (Returns from Injury).
Out: 1. Matthew NASH (Omitted).
Unavailable: 2. Andre GUMPRECHT (Knee – Indefinite), 8. Dean HEFFERNAN (Leg – Indefinite), 12. Greg OWENS (Hamstring – Indefinite), 21. Ahmad ELRICH (Knee – Season).

Wellington Phoenix squad: Mark PASTON (gk), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Vaughan COVENY, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE, 11. DANIEL, 15. Adam KWASNIK, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 21. Leilei GAO, 22. Andrew DURANTE (captain).

In: 4. Jon McKAIN (promoted), 7. Leo BERTOS (return from injury), 20. Glen MOSS (gk) (return from injury).
Out: 2. Jeremy CHRISTIE (groin – 1 week), 12. Richard JOHNSON (illness – 1 week).
Unavailable: 17. Vince LIA (knee – season).