Suspension and injury rob Darije Kalezić of two key players ahead of Wellington Phoenix’s clash with Newcastle Jets on Saturday night but it’s a happy return for the host’s promising new Argentinian signing Pato Rodriguez who has shaken off an ankle injury to make Ernie Merrick’s squad.
After strong performances in the heart of the Phoenix defence Dylan Fox has succumbed to the hamstring tweak that ended his night prematurely against the Wanderers, meaning he misses the trip to Australia, as does midfield enforcer Goran Paracki for an accumulation of five yellow cards.
But the Croatian’s absence could see an opening for new signing Matija Ljujic to make his first start for the club, with talented youngsters Alex Rufer and Sarpreet Singh also pushing in the wings for match time.
Tactically, Kalezić has plenty of attacking options and could keep one of Andrija Kaludjerović, Roy Krishna or Nathan Burns up his sleeve for an impact from the bench, with all three training the house down midweek; but hinted perhaps to media this week that a more defence-minded lineup could be in order with his side having produced 54 shots on target over two consecutive home games.
For the Jets it’s a return from injury for Ben Kantarovski, but otherwise an unchanged squad, long-term absentees not withstanding.
Expect plenty of movement from Andrew Nabbout and Dimitri Petratos up front – two players whose recent form has lit up the Hyundai A-League.
A fascinating match up however the sides prepare – don’t miss a minute on Sky Sports 3 around New Zealand from the viewer-friendly time of 7.30pm on Saturday night.
Hyundai A-League Round 17 playing squads:
Wellington Phoenix Squad: 1.Lewis ITALIANO (Gk), 2.Daniel MULLEN, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 7.Nathan BURNS, 8.Matija LJUJIC, 9.Andrija KALUDJEROVIC, 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 12.Adam PARKHOUSE, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 18.Sarpreet SINGH, 19.Tom DOYLE, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22.Andrew DURANTE 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24.Logan ROGERSON, 30.Keegan SMITH (Gk)
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 24. Logan ROGERSON (promoted), 30.Keegan SMITH (Gk) (promoted)
Outs: 6.Dylan FOX (hamstring – 1-2 weeks), 4.Goran PARACKI (suspended), 20.Oliver SAIL (Gk) (omitted)
Newcastle Jets Squad: 1.Jack DUNCAN (Gk), 3.Jason HOFFMAN, 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimitri PETRATOS, 10.Wayne BROWN, 11.Patricio RODRIGUEZ, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 18.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 20.Glen MOSS (Gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 23.Devante CLUT, 25.Antonee BURKE, 32.Angus THURGATE, 44.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI (returns from injury), 25.Antonee BURKE (promoted)
Unavailable: 8.Ronald VARGAS (ankle – indefinite), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN (groin – 7 weeks)