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Next two games 'massive' for Phoenix - Buckingham

Goal.com logo Goal.com 07-03-2017

Co-coach Des Buckingham reckons a 15-day break between matches couldn't come at a better time for Wellington Phoenix as they prepare for two vital fixtures in their bid for an A-League finals berth.

Seventh-placed Wellington visit the team above them in the table - Western Sydney Wanderers - on March 19 as part of the A-League's upcoming split round before hosting Newcastle Jets, who are currently eighth, a week later during the international break.

While some might bemoan a break after an impressive fortnight that saw the Phoenix beat Brisbane Roar and draw with Perth Glory, Buckingham is happy it will give injured pair Michael McGlinchey (knee) and Marco Rossi (hamstring) more time to recover ahead of a tough regular season finale.

"The Western Sydney game is important for two reasons," Buckingham told reporters on Tuesday.

"One is that it's important that we show that we can sustain some momentum in terms of performance and result, and - secondly - it allows us to get into a [finals] position where it's ours to hold onto.

"The Jets game's going to be a totally different set-up for us because the game's not going to be moved and we're going to be missing players, which we're still unsure of at the moment."

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With Football Federation Australia rejecting the Phoenix's request to reschedule the Jets' visit, Wellington could miss nine players in Round 24.

Captain Andrew Durante, goalkeeper Glen Moss, winger Kosta Barbarouses and striker Roy Krishna are almost certain to be unavailable due to World Cup qualifiers between New Zealand and Fiji.

But Buckingham has backed the likes of Dylan Fox, Sarpreet Singh and Ryan Lowry - who have all made fewer than 20 A-League appearances - to step up.

"I think the last couple of weeks, through various circumstances, enabled other players to come into the squad and have some more game-time than was probably planned for six or seven weeks ago," he said.

More: Phoenix 'in a bit of a hole' - Moss

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