Laid low for 10 days by a debilitating combination of concussion and giardia, Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund is itching to return for Wellington's ninth-round A-League match against Melbourne Victory in Auckland on Saturday.
The 34-year-old former All White has been recovering his strength on the sidelines since he was injured in the Phoenix's round seven away match against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Wanderers striker Federico Piovaccari collected Sigmund in the back of the neck with his elbow in a goalmouth challenge late in the first half of Western Sydney's 2-1 win.
The gritty defender lasted just eight minutes of the second spell before he collapsed and had to be helped from the field.
The referee missed the incident, and Football Federation Australia's match review panel opted not to take any action against Piovaccari, a decision Sigmund describes as disappointing.
"If it was me or Manny or Dura, we probably would have got three weeks for that," Sigmund said of fellow defenders Manny Muscat and Andrew Durante.
"They had a great opportunity to make an example of someone who's thrown an elbow and badly hurt someone."
Forced to return home early with vomiting, headaches and bad neck pain, Sigmund missed the Phoenix's scoreless draw against Sydney FC last Thursday.
In a niggly game with plenty of whistle, Sydney amassed 29 fouls against the Phoenix while Wellington conceded 14.
"That's their game plan - they want to slow the game down, they don't want us to break quickly and I thought they did that really well," Sigmund said.
"Everyone's realising that the best thing to do if you lose a ball up front is to slow the game down, and that's by doing cheap little fouls."
He said one possibility would be to yellow card footballers for a series of four or five fouls, with a red to follow if they continued to concede niggly fouls.
"Because otherwise, the game's going to keep getting slowed down. The fans want to see it fast and they want to see lots of goals, so that's what it needs to be."