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Nix seek to dominate depleted Sky Blues

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017
Co-coach Chris Greenacre of the Phoenix. © Getty Images Co-coach Chris Greenacre of the Phoenix.

Sydney FC will be missing two key midfielders for Saturday's A-League clash against Wellington, and Phoenix co-coach Chris Greenacre is counting on his team to capitalise.

Josh Brillante and Brandon O'Neill will sit out a one-match suspension after controversially picking up yellow cards in last weekend's 3-0 win over Melbourne City.

Sydney coach Graham Arnold asked Brillante and O'Neill to earn cautions late in the game.

As a result, the pair will sit out the Phoenix match due to accumulation of yellow cards, removing the threat of that occurring a fortnight later in the finals series.

Greenacre says Sydney's missing midfielders will leave a gap.

"They're without two of their most consistent players in O'Neill and Brillante, who have been terrific for them this season.

"I know it's probably for the greater good of having two players not suspended for finals, but I think you always want your best players on the pitch at all times."

Sydney have already wrapped up the A-League premiership, sitting 17 points clear of second-placed Melbourne Victory with only two regular season games remaining.

In contrast, seventh-placed Wellington must beat the Sky Blues at Westpac Stadium - and Brisbane Roar the following week - to have any chance of making the play-offs.

The Phoenix are coming off two big wins - 5-0 over Newcastle Jets and 3-0 over the Victory - but are still four points astray of sixth-placed Perth Glory.

While Greenacre says Arnold's ploy isn't something he'd do, he's got no real problem with it.

"I've witnessed it for a number of years now, and it's just part and parcel of the game," he said on Wednesday.

"It is what it is, and the people in charge will see fit what needs to happen."

Arnold won't face any sanction for his actions, as FFA has deemed the matter falls short of calling the game into disrepute, but a review could end the controversial practice.

A-League boss Greg O'Rourke said it was disappointing to have coaches "overtly calling" for their players to commit fouls.

He has spoken with the head of FFA's integrity unit with a view to banning the practice.

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