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Phoenix chasing redemption in Adelaide

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/01/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

The last time the Wellington Phoenix travelled to Adelaide it resulted in the exit of their coach and a bone-deep review of a faltering A-League season.

They return to face Adelaide United on Sunday in a far more chipper state, with winger Kosta Barbarouses determined they maintain their play-off push.

He recalls how the 2-0 loss to then-last placed Adelaide on December 4 prompted coach Ernie Merrick to call it quits, having overseen six defeats in their first eight games.

Only two losses have come under replacement co-coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham in the subsequent eight matches, lifting the Phoenix to sixth.

Despite it being an obvious turning point, Barbarouses doesn't reflect fondly on the Adelaide defeat.

"Looking back on it, it was a pretty sad time because that was obviously the last straw. That made Ernie make his decision," he said.

"It would be great to get a result there and rectify that in some sort of sense."

A scoreless draw in terrible Wellington conditions on New Year's Day then proved how tough the South Australians can be to break down.

Barbarouses won't discount the ninth-placed defending champions launching a late play-off charge in a similar manner to last season.

"You don't want to be the team that springs a resurgence, if they're going to have one.

"We've got to back ourselves and be aggressive like we have in the last 5-6 games from the front. I think we should pressure them into making mistakes and can capitalise on that."

The Phoenix have shaken off their niggles following a string of three home games in the space of seven days.

Buckingham said central midfielders Vince Lia and Alex Rodriguez are over knocks picked up in the 1-0 loss to Brisbane on Saturday.

He says Dylan Fox has trained well and shapes as a likely candidate to replace suspended Italian defender Marco Rossi, who picked up a fifth yellow card against the Roar.

Meanwhile, Barbarouses wryly noted an upping of the intensity from some of his Kiwi teammates when All Whites coach Anthony Hudson was on hand for Phoenix training on Thursday.

The New Zealand mentor is finalising his squad ahead of two World Cup qualifying games against Fiji.

"A few of the boys were running pretty quick, I haven't seen them run that quick before," Barbarouses said.

"The coach, just showing his face here, for the young guys, is invaluable."

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