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Lia vouches for interim Nix bosses to stay

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Wellington Phoenix stalwart Vince Lia has thrown his weight behind the A-League club's interim bosses to retain their roles permanently.

Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham stepped in as co-coaches last week after the resignation of Ernie Merrick, and guided the side to victory over Central Coast.

They'll now look to push the Nix into the top six in Saturday's clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers in Auckland.

The British pair, who both served as assistants under Merrick, have been linked in the past week with permanent head coaching roles at the club.

Australian coaches including Mark Rudan, Chris Taylor and Luciano Trani are also thought to be in the mix as Phoenix management look to secure the club's future.

A final decision is expected to be made by around Christmas.

Lia, 31, has made 185 appearances for the club since joining from Melbourne Victory in 2007, and is the only remaining Phoenix foundation player.

He told reporters he'd seen enough in the last fortnight to know Greenacre and Buckingham were capable of producing the goods.

Their decision to slot Hamish Watson in as No.9 against the Mariners had borne instant fruit, helping Kosta Barbarouses and Roy Krishna flourish out wide.

"They know the playing group, they're just following on from Ernie's attacking football brand, which is now instilled in the club," Lia said.

"I think they deserve their crack at doing it and doing it well."

However, Greenacre and Buckingham stuck to their guns when asked about their futures, saying they were approaching each game at a time.

They'd work hard to put the club back amongst the A-League mid-table, and leave the head coaching decision to executives.

"Whether it be Chris and I, or Chris, or me, or neither of us, as long as this team's put in the best position to kick on," Buckingham said.

"We want to finish in the top four, and if we can leave the team in that position for someone else to take, great."

Rejuvenated by last week's stroll over the Mariners in Hamilton, the Phoenix will take on a Wanderers outfit struggling for goals and form in 2016.

Greenacre said the former Asian champions, who sit sixth on the A-League ladder, were playing better football than their league position suggested.

Nullifying the Wanderers' possession-based game, led by skipper Dimas, would be key to victory.

"Tony Popovic has put together another strong squad and I think they probably haven't had the rub of the green," Greenacre said.

"But we need to concentrate on what we're good at, that attacking brand of football, and hopefully that can continue."

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