Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay insists his depleted A-League Men’s team is up for the challenge of facing Newcastle on Friday.
The Phoenix will head to McDonald Jones Stadium with a threadbare squad after injuries, suspension and national team call-ups robbed Talay of several key players for the clash with the Jets.
Captain Alex Rufer’s ACL injury in last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Brisbane means he’s out for the rest of the season while English forward David Ball is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign against the Roar.
Compounding Talay’s woes a quartet of players – Oli Sail, Ben Old, Ben Waine and Clayton Lewis – are in Qatar with the All Whites ahead of New Zealand’s World Cup qualifiers against Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
With Olyroo Reno Piscopo and Oskar van Hattum injured, Talay said his squad selection meeting will most likely be a brief affair.
“I think we’ve got just the right amount of players to make the squad this week,” Talay said.
“We’ll go with the numbers that we have.
“We’ve got some young boys here that haven’t had game time and this is an opportunity to show what they can actually do and go out there and perform.
“We’ll have to adapt some players into different roles. It might not be something they’re accustomed to but I think they’re good enough to adapt.”
The loss to the Roar ended a seven-game unbeaten run for the Phoenix and leaves them seventh on the ladder, but Talay remains confident his team has the ability to immediately bounce back to winning ways against the struggling Jets who have lost their past three matches.
Friday’s game will be Newcastle’s first at home in three weeks and Arthur Papas’ team will be eager to emulate their 4-0 win over the Phoenix the last time Wellington travelled to the Hunter Region in December.
Both teams will also acknowledge the recent third anniversary of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks at Friday’s game with 51 seats at McDonald Jones Stadium to be reserved and bearing a name of each of the victims.