Sydney FC will be desperate, says Herbert

January 8, 2012
By Cathy Walshe and Angela Habashy

Wellington coach Ricki Herbert knows a wounded Sydney FC will be desperate to redeem themselves after suffering their worst A-League home defeat last week.

The Phoenix host the Sky Blues on Wednesday after they were thumped 4-0 at the SFS on Thursday.

The fifth-placed Phoenix, who sit only a point below Sydney on the ladder, are also coming off a loss - a 2-0 defeat to Adelaide - but are near unbeatable at their fortress Westpac Stadium.

"Our form has been great at home. I think we've lost only four games in 4-1/2 years," Herbert said.

"Sydney will be disappointed after getting well beaten last week - they'll be desperate and we need to be desperate too."

The Sky Blues will be boosted with the return of skipper Terry McFlynn from a one-match suspension, while coach Vitezslav Lavicka will be sweating on the fitness of injured playmaker Nicky Carle who could also come back for the trans-Tasman match.

Sydney will also be buoyed by their impressive record on the road, however their only away loss this season was at the hands of the Phoenix who beat them 2-1.

Phoenix striker Paul Ifill, who makes his comeback from injury for the clash, is hoping to repeat history.

In that match, the English striker scored seven minutes into his first start after a five-week break with a similar injury, setting the Phoenix up for their second home win of the season.

A recurrence of his groin injury against Brisbane Roar has kept Ifill on the sidelines since December 14, and more than prepared to pace his return to the pitch.

"It's not worth being out again for four or five weeks at this stage of the season - it isn't going to help anybody," he said.

"I feel good, but you can feel great in training most of the time: it's that extra 10-15 per cent in a game you can't replicate."

Herbert is looking forward to having his playmaker back on the pitch, especially after last week's disappointing loss to the lowly Adelaide.

But he's also wary of pushing too hard too soon, and has yet to decide if Ifill will start or come off the bench.

"We're only halfway through the season. We want him for the next 13 games - not for the next two," Herbert said after training on Tuesday.

"I guess it's that balance - he's got to be right himself, feel good himself and if that's not the case tomorrow, we'll err on the side of caution."