31 Dec 2016

McGlinchey returns for Phoenix

6:21 pm on 31 December 2016

The return of Mike McGlinchey from injury may be the January reinforcement Wellington Phoenix need to shoot up the A-League table.

The Phoenix midfielder Michael McGlinchey.

The Phoenix midfielder Michael McGlinchey. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

McGlinchey, 29, hasn't played for club or country since November 5 with a knee injury but has been included for Sunday's clash with Adelaide in Wellington.

The former A-League winner is expected to come off the bench in the capital, with his vision and dribbling sorely missed by the side.

Losses to Melbourne City and Adelaide during the playmaker's absence put paid to the reign of Ernie Merrick, before a mini-revival of five points in nine games.

Interim co-coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham are now hoping the Scottish-born Kiwi can push the side to new heights.

He'll be included in the matchday XVI if he can make it through Saturday's pre- match training session.

"It's like a new signing," Greenacre said.

"Mike brings a lot of experience, and he's a top quality player and pro."

McGlinchey's return to the paddock is just one of several for the Phoenix, who can also look forward to the return of midfielder Alex Rodriguez on Sunday.

He too will start off the bench, while striker Hamish Watson's hip complaint is unlikely to keep him out of contention.

Gun striker and prodigal son Shane Smeltz is also just days from action, becoming eligible for selection against Perth Glory next week.

But in the meantime, the Nix will be on red alert for an Adelaide outfit who couldn't have started the A-League campaign any worse.

Earning just six points from their first 12 games, last year's champions have scored fewer goals than any other side and conceded the third-most.

Their poor start has already led to criticism of the side's pre-season recruitment and calls for boss Guillermo Amor to be axed.

Buckingham said United's poor form belied their quality across the park, with a number of champions still at the club.

"They seem to be getting quelled by individual mistakes or errors that are costing them goals," Buckingham said.

"But they've got a very experienced team, and a lot of players who won them the A-League championship last year."

Winger Kosta Barbarouses, who netted his first goal of the season last week in the side's draw with Newcastle, agreed.

The match would be a solid gauge of the side's finals credentials.

"They're a dangerous side for as long as they're on the bottom, because nobody wants to be there," the 26-year-old All White said.