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Nix look ahead to January home comforts

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/12/2016 Angelo Risso

Chris Greenacre © Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images Chris Greenacre Wellington Phoenix are hoping a return to the blustery surrounds of Wellywood gives them a much-needed lift towards the A-League top six.

The Nix's 2-2 draw against Newcastle on Boxing Day leaves them in eighth place on the ladder after 11 games, but only two points off the fifth-placed Jets.

Having not played in the Kiwi capital since November 5, the side will now enjoy four of their next five games at home, starting against Adelaide on Sunday.

They'll then travel to Perth for the distance derby, before tussles in Wellington against Central Coast, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane.

Interim bosses Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham, both still uncertain of their futures in the post-Ernie Merrick era, said the games may make or break the side.

But they were confident the Phoenix's depth in the top two thirds would show, with the returns of Alex Rodriguez and Michael McGlinchey imminent.

Prodigal son Shane Smeltz will also be available for next weekend's clash with the Glory after re-signing last week.

"The depth is there, the team's in a good position, (so) we're able to use this as a springboard," Buckingham said on Tuesday.

The introduction of the trio will give the British co-coaches plenty of headaches going forward, as they look to shoehorn all their attacking talent into one side.

Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler are just starting to hit their straps after moving from the Victory, while Roy Krishna has scored a red-hot seven goals.

Kiwi young gun Hamish Watson has also looked assured at No.9 after being slotted into the starting XI by Greenacre and Buckingham.

"To be able to bring either of those players off the bench or start them, it gives us great options in the formation and in terms of plans B and C," Greenacre said.

"Every game, as you've seen in this league, is very tight."

Adelaide, despite winning the league last season, have looked well off the pace in 2016-17, accruing just six points and struggling to score goals.

Greenacre acknowledged Sunday's match would be a solid gauge of his side's finals credentials, but wouldn't underestimate the Reds.

"They've still got some real quality players (but) for some reason it's just not quite happening for them this year," Greenacre said.

"We'll have to be at our best."

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