Phoenix to welcome back Lochhead
WELLINGTON Phoenix left back Tony Lochhead is likely to return from a groin injury for the club's visit to Adelaide United on Friday night.
The All Whites' defender has been sidelined for three weeks after he was injured in the home victory over Perth, and his position has been filled by Brent Griffiths and Manny Muscat in his absence.
Lochhead's inclusion appears likely to be the only change to the 15 that will travel to Australia from the squad that hammered the Newcastle Jets 5-2 at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.
Griffiths will drop out of the squad completely. Considering how out of his depth he looked two weeks ago in the 3-1 loss to Melbourne Victory, it would be a surprise to see him again this season bar injury.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said it was great to have the experience of Lochhead back in the mix, although he wasn't sure if he would start.
"Yeah, he'll travel ... He's been good, actually. He's done a lot of work in the gym, so I think he'll be reasonably fit.
"I'll just see what he's like over the next couple of days. We've got a training session there, too. So touch wood, hopefully, he comes through that.
So I'd like to give him some time anyway, even if he doesn't start."
If Lochhead doesn't start, Muscat will stay at left back after he played there against Newcastle when Griffiths was relegated to the bench following the Melbourne loss, with Vince Lia on the right side of defence.
The most impressive part of the bumper win over Newcastle, though, was the attacking end of the park, led by two-goal hero Dani Sanchez, who thrived in the centre of the midfield.
Winger Daniel was given a rare opportunity to start and he repaid Herbert's faith as he laid on three assists. Herbert said it was unlikely that there would be any changes at the front of the pitch.
"The others did a good job. So we are happy with that. I'm pretty happy with the whole squad, really, at the moment. We are starting to get most players back on deck at the moment, which is a little better than we've had."
Adelaide sit at the foot of the A-League ladder, but new coach John Kosmina is on board to fire them up.
"I think we are probably going into a tough one," Herbert said. "But we are travelling quite good ourselves, at the moment."
With three wins from their past four games, Herbert is certainly on the money there, but the never-ending questions surrounding their ability to win on the road will come to the fore again for the Phoenix on Friday.
In 56 matches across the Tasman, the club have tasted victory only 10 times.