16 Oct 2016

Phoenix in high spirits ahead of Perth clash

8:58 am on 16 October 2016

The Wellington Phoenix are in high spirits ahead of their A League game against Perth Glory in Australia tonight.

Phoenix midfielder Michael McGlinchey in action against Perth Glory.

Phoenix midfielder Michael McGlinchey in action against Perth Glory. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Phoenix squad will be back to full strength with the return of five All Whites from international duty in the US and Tom Doyle from injury.

After struggling for continuity against Melbourne last weekend Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said now with a full squad the Phoenix are poised for their first win this season.

"It comes down to playing your best football and the game plan you've been working on all preseason, it's been very successful, and every week making sure you step up and not step back," Merrick said.

"We get a stronger backline with [Durante] coming into it, getting our midfield playing the ball forward more often and brining in another goal scorer and having more depth so that I can bring on players off the bench.

"I think we have a good chance of doing well against Perth."

Perth is traditionally a brutal trip for any New Zealand sports team, but Merrick said he wasn't worried about the travel factor.

"We're pretty good on travel .... I think we have won the last couple games we've played over in Perth (both games won 2-1)."

Perth are coming off a tough draw after starting with a hiss and a roar last week against Central Coast last weekend.

Glory were up 3-0 inside 40 minutes, however three second half goals to Central Coast had the final score at 3-3.

"Every team I've seen in this league is going to be very competitive and that just showed you how competitive it can be, up 3-0 one minute, 3-3 the next and that's why it is an exciting league," Merrick said.

Merrick was also spoke of new midfield singing Ben Litfin, who will join the squad once they return from Perth.

"Ben will come in and have to get used to the heavier training and the system that we play, but from what I've seen he'll fit in very well.

"He was one of these players that had two years at Queensland Roar's youth team, it never quite worked for him, he didn't get a contract, but he felt that by stepping down and playing a season at NPL [National Premier League] level with Gold Coast City would work for him and it did."

Litfin, 21, has been in blinding form of late, scoring 19 goals in 22 matches.

"I don't think you can ever have enough goal scorers and now that we've got a pretty solid defence, with backup, and a bit more goal scorers, I'm pretty happy that we have a well-rounded team.

"We'll challenge anyone in this league now and we're aiming for the top four, and I think we've got the squad to do that, especially with the final signing of Ben Litfin."