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Nix ready to pressure high-flying Sydney

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/04/2017 Cathy Walshe

Wellington Phoenix will continue their high-pressing game against Sydney FC in the capital on Saturday, but co-coach Des Buckingham says timing will be key if they want to beat the runaway A-League leaders.

Big wins over Newcastle Jets (5-0) and Melbourne Victory (3-0) have built some momentum for the Nix, but they're still four points astray of sixth-placed Western Sydney and a spot in the play-offs.

Premiers Sydney FC have lost just one game, a 1-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers six weeks ago, and have conceded a meagre 11 goals all season.

Buckingham says Wellington's late resurgence has been built around some hard work in their own attacking third, led by Kosta Barbarouses and Roy Krishna, and backed up by wide midfielders Roly Bonevacia and Alex Rodriguez.

"They've been fantastic, they've worked really hard at the top," he said.

"Sometimes it's a thankless task chasing that ball up the top. But once you see results, once you see goals come from it, then it makes it that little bit easier."

Buckingham concedes that against the rampant Sky Blues, his team will be punished if they don't get their timing right and says Wellington will need both discipline and patience.

"If we go and press them when we're disorganised behind, they've got good players in key positions that will open you up."

Buckingham and co-coach Chris Greenacre won't have an entirely injury-free squad to choose from, with right back particularly problematic.

Louis Fenton continues his stint on the sideline with a groin injury, Jacob Tratt is back in Australia for personal reasons, while Matthew Ridenton and Dylan Fox have both picked up knee injuries.

Ryan Lowry will step in against a Sydney FC team without two key midfielders in Josh Brillante and Brandon O'Neill, both sitting out a week's suspension.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante doesn't anticipate the Sky Blues will lose much.

"In terms of structure, discipline and total game plan, Sydney FC have really nailed it this season," he said.

"It's great for the league that there's a team that has been able to break away and show dominance.

"Generally with the salary cap it's always quite even, so credit to Sydney."

Durante says Wellington will still attack Saturday' game with plenty of confidence.

"We know we've got a big job ahead of us. Even if we do win, we're still relying on other results but at least it's in our hands to put other teams under pressure."

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