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Phoenix faces big week to save season

Andrew Durante of the Wellington Phoenix clears the ball.
Andrew Durante of the Wellington Phoenix clears the ball. Ross Setford

THE Wellington Phoenix is about to begin an eight-day stretch that could make or break its season.

After hosting bottom- placed Central Coast at Westpac Stadium today, the Phoenix plays its rescheduled home game against the high-flying Melbourne Victory on Tuesday night, before meeting the Brisbane Roar in a third straight home match next Saturday.

"It's a crucial week for us,” captain Andrew Durante (pictured) said.

"It won't determine the season, but it'll play a big part, without doubt. They're big games. We've got to make the most of being (at home).

"We had two chances over the last two weeks to jump teams and go into fifth spot but we didn't take them.”

Central Coast is without a win in its last six games.

Having suffered their first loss since taking charge from Ernie Merrick a month ago, newly installed Phoenix coaches Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre have been plotting the side's path to playoff football.

"We're not where we want to be and definitely not where we set out to be at the start of the season,” Buckingham said.

"We know (how many) points we need to get to fourth or sixth. We're very aware of what we need to do, starting (tomorrow).”

Buckingham and Greenacre have the luxury of an almost fully-fit squad to choose from.

The only absentee is a key man though, with leading scorer Roy Krishna serving a one-game suspension after being sent off against Perth Glory last weekend.

Shane Smeltz will lead the Phoenix line in Krishna's absence, his first home game since re-signing for the club.

NZ HERALD

Topics:  a league central coast mariners wellington phoenix


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