Wellington coach Ernie Merrick has flagged a potential need to fly an extra player across the ditch for this week's clash with Sydney FC, as his A-League outfit attempt to rebound from their "backward step" against Western Sydney.
Having been pipped 2-1 by the Wanderers in the final five minutes on Saturday, the New Zealand-based Phoenix will stay in Sydney for the five-day lead-up to Thursday night's Sky Blues duel at Allianz Stadium.
Merrick hopes he will have injured midfielder Vince Lia (calf) and forward Blake Powell (hamstring) back for the match, and wanted the "exhausted" Michael McGlinchey's energy to return after reportedly being furious the Kiwi international flew home economy class from a friendly in Oman.
But he was also concerned about defender Ben Sigmund, who is being monitored after effects from a serious virus caused him to collapse during play at Pirtek Stadium.
"I'm more looking at players coming back into the team," Merrick said.
"Blake Powell had a slight hamstring problem so he was out, Vince Lia has been out with a calf injury and we'll have to see how Ben comes up.
"I might have to fly out another player.
"Our youngsters just couldn't cope with the pressure, and the pressure was really where the (Wanderers' winning) goal came from."
Merrick was categorically unimpressed with the Phoenix's performance against the Wanderers, saying they lacked their opponents' vitality and took "a big step backwards" from the previous week's barnstorming 4-2 defeat of cellar dwellers Adelaide.
In particular he criticised his entire defensive line for running forward when McGlinchey nearly scored from a free-kick, an error that left Wanderers stalwart Mark Bridge free to embark on a field-length counter-attacking run and cross for Federico Piovaccari to tap in for the opening goal.
"I was also disappointed we conceded again from a corner kick, and we keep giving them away," Merrick said of the Bridge's late winner.
"We had our chances."