Football 3 years ago

Merrick to boost Phoenix A-League attack

  • Merrick to boost Phoenix A-League attack

Memories of a dour scoreless draw against Sydney FC three weeks ago have motivated Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick to add another attacking player to his line-up for Saturday's 11th-round A-League match.

Just who that will be is unclear, as Merrick also looks to juggle his back four in the likely absence of Ben Sigmund and Justin Gulley, both still nursing niggly hamstrings.

Tom Doyle should return to left back from a week off with food poisoning, but Merrick remained vague about his combination up front.

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"Being at home and playing Sydney, we're not going to sit back," he said.

"Rather than a midfielder, it'll be a more attacking player and there's two or three of them vying for that position.

"A couple tried out yesterday, I've got them all guessing."

Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Michael McGlinchey are givens, with youngsters Alex Rufer and Matt Ridenton or under-performing import Jeffrey Sarpong other possibilities.

Sixth on the ladder, the Phoenix are coming off a four-match run away from Wellington with their latest result a disappointing 1-2 loss to Brisbane Roar in Cairns.

Their last home match might be a distant memory, but it's one Merrick remembers fondly.

"Last time we were at Westpac - I can't remember when it was, I think it was this millennium - we played against Adelaide and scored four cracking goals.

"We want to entertain and we want to score goals."

Sydney sit two points and two places above the Phoenix on the ladder, and will still be smarting from last Friday's upset 1-2 loss away to Adelaide United.

Merrick has no doubt about the danger posed by Graham Arnold's Sky Blues, even though they have struggled to find the net recently, scoring just twice in their last four games.

"I think all the teams have gone through a little bit of that, but that doesn't mean they're anything lesser of a team," he said.

"They've got good quality players who play good football and we just have to be at the top of our game.

"The last time we played Sydney we couldn't hold possession in the front third and we couldn't threaten our goal.

"I guarantee we'll threaten our goal this time."

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