North Queensland Fury v Wellington Phoenix preview
The Phoenix returned to form with a 4-0 thrashing of the Newcastle Jets last weekend which holds them in good stead for this encounter.
Although the Jets were well undermanned on that occasion, the Phoenix were very impressive in winning by such a margin and really should be too good for the Fury who are currently sitting second bottom on the league table.
The loss of striker Paul Ifill will leave a hole in the Wellington side but his replacement last week, Chris Greenacre, sparked the side into gear indicating that perhaps the absence of the Barbadian will not be as bad as first thought.
Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante returns from suspension which is a massive in and Nick Ward and Tony Lochhead should be in the squad after recovering from injuries.
In the Fury camp, centre-half Eric Akoto's return from a knee problem will provide plenty of depth at the back which should make life a bit tougher for the visitors. North Queensland will be desperate to get a win as their past five matches have yielded four losses and three points here will have them sitting just four out of the top six.
But they have won just three of 11 at Dairy Farmers this season and may be happy to get a draw particularly with the expected wet conditions but the Phoenix will be desperate to get back into the finals race and will produce a winning score.
Verdict: Phoenix 2-1
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 (NZ). Hyundai A-League club partners are Zinc 100.7 (Townsville) and The Radio Network (Wellington) 1035AM. To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 3. Brad McDONALD, 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 6. Ufuk TALAY (c), 7. Gareth EDDS, 8. Adam CASEY, 9. Eugene SSEPPUYA, 10. Dyron DAAL, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS, 13. Andre KILIAN, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE, 16. Simon STOREY, 18. Brett STUDMAN, 21. Jason SPAGNUOLO, 24. Ramazan TAVSANCIOGLU, 28. Sebastian USAI (gk) *four to be omitted* In: Eric AKOTO (back from injury), Adam CASEY (back from injury) Out: Nil Unavailable: Jack HINGERT (ankle - 2 weeks), Osama MALIK (hamstring - 4-6 weeks), Isaka CERNAK (knee - 2 weeks), Matthew HAM (knee - out for the season)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 10. Oscar Roberto CORNEJO, 11. DANIEL, 12. James MUSA, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15. Jade NORTH, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 20. Reece CROWTHER (gk), 21. Marco ROJAS, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER *three to be omitted* In: Nick WARD (return from injury), Tony LOCHHEAD (return from injury), Andrew DURANTE (return from suspension), Oscar Roberto CORNEJO (return from injury) Out: Paul IFILL (leg - 8 weeks) Unavailable: Paul IFILL (leg - 8 weeks), Mark PASTON (gk, knee - season)