Merrick insists Phoenix have firepower

December 29, 2014 10:56:44 UK

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick believes his team can cope with the absence of their two leading scorers in their next two games.

The Phoenix secured their seventh win of the season as they beat Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 at Westpac Stadium to close within three points of the top two.

Already resigned to losing the league’s top marksman Nathan Burns for their next two games, Merrick saw in-form Roy Krishna pick up an injury that will keep him on the sidelines.

Krishna grabbed the only goal of the game when he netted a rebound after his 12th-minute penalty was parried by keeper Ante Covic.

It was the Fijian striker’s fifth goal in six games, but he will miss the New Year’s Eve trip to Adelaide United and the home game with Brisbane Roar – their last before the Asian Cup break – after suffering a torn hamstring.

With Burns being unavailable as he will be in camp with the Socceroos, it leaves Wellington, who are 9.00 to win the Grand Final, shorn of a strike pairing that has scored 15 goals between them.

Merrick isn’t unduly concerned, though. He said: “We’ve got Jeremy (Brockie) who’ll come straight back in, we’ve got Kenny (Cunningham), we’ve got Tyler (Boyd) so I think we’ve got enough firepower up front and they’re all desperate to get a run.”

Midfielder Alex Rodriguez missed the Wanderers victory after fracturing his hand in training, but will don a soft cast and be available for the game with United.

Fullback Manny Muscat will also return at Coopers Stadium, where Wellington are 4.33 to win, following his two-game suspension.

Merrick saw his side given a controversial penalty against Wanderers, but was pleased with the way they were able to go on and keep a clean sheet.

“If you have to win ugly – and win – that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“I would have been very disappointed with a draw and in those last 10 minutes we did what it took. I didn’t think we had any bad players on the park tonight.”

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