5 Oct 2016

Phoenix's shallow depth to be tested

5:16 pm on 5 October 2016

The Wellington Phoenix's shallow depth is going to be put to the test in their A-League football season opener against Melbourne City on Saturday.

The Phoenix will be without four key men in captain Andrew Durante, Michael McGlinchey, Matt Ridenton and new signing Kosta Barbarouses, all of whom are on All Whites duty.

A fifth player, defender Tom Doyle, is also out injured with a hamstring strain.

Veteran midfielder Vince Lia said they face a real challenge on Saturday.

Vince Lia of the Wellington Phoenix.

Vince Lia of the Wellington Phoenix. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"It's already going to test our backline, so we're up against it in the first game against (Bruno) Fornaroli, who's the best striker in the competition," Lia said.

"Our depth is going to be tested but every squad has got to go through it at some stage in the season so it'll be a good one for us on Saturday."

But the 31-year-old is confident the team can put up a fight against the competition heavyweights after claiming four wins in the build-up to the season.

Not coincidentally, all four came after the arrival of Italian defender Marco Rossi.

While big-name recruits Barbarouses and Gui Finkler have dominated the lead-in to the new campaign, Lia said the addition of the former Serie A defender had given the team a lift.

"He's really shored up our backline since coming in and he's a left-foot centre- back, which we haven't had before," he said.

"Our backline's a lot more balanced now. Drewy can go back on the other side. He's played in Serie A, Serie B, played against some good players, so he knows football."

The match against Melbourne City will kick off at Wellignton's Westpac Stadium at 7.30pm on Saturday.