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Wellington Phoenix buoyed by inclusion of skipper

Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is expected to return to the fray this weekend against the Newcastle Jets. Durante returns from injury but it is not certain if he will even force himself into the starting line-up given last week's performance of the team.

The Phoenix defeated Sydney FC 2-1 at the Sydney Football Stadium and it was the defence that led the way; unfortunately that is where Durante does his bets work, in central defence.

"Hopefully I do play this weekend, but there's no guarantee of that given how well the boys went without me in Sydney," said Durante, who will make his 50th appearance if he does happen to play.

"There's healthy competition for places in the squad and I guess it's a good headache for [head coach] Ricki [Herbert] to have. The defence was solid against Sydney with Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Karl Dodd and Tony Lochhead doing really well. But if Ricki does choose to put me in then I'll give my all, as I do in every game.

"I've trained well this week and I'm feeling good, so I'm hopeful of making the team for Sunday. To play my 50th match will be a special occasion and to do it against my old club will make it extra special." The Phoenix welcome former Melbourne Victory midfielder Fred, who has been signed on a six week guest stay, and will be looking for the creative playmaker to both score and set up goals.

On the other side of the coin, the Newcastle Jets will be boosted by a quartet of Young Socceroos in James Holland, Ben Kantarovski, Marko Jesic and Jason Naidovski who are all back from international duty in Saudi Arabia along with Danish striker Jesper Hakansson who is included in the squad.

Defender Daniel Piorkowski's contract with the Jets is up forcing him out for the rest of the season.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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