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Phoenix harbour faint A-League hopes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/03/2017

Eight points shy of sixth place, and with only four games remaining, Wellington Phoenix still haven't given up on their A-League play-off hopes.

Co-coach Chris Greenacre says Sunday's match against Newcastle Jets offers a chance at redemption after last week's meek 3-1 capitulation away to Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Nix are currently seventh on the ladder, one point astray of eighth-placed Newcastle, and will tackle the Jets with a squad depleted by international call-ups.

Skipper Andrew Durante, keeper Glen Moss, Tom Doyle, Michael McGlinchey, Shane Smeltz and Alex Rufer are on All Whites duty, while top scorer Roy Krishna is turning out for Fiji.

Greenacre and co-coach Des Buckingham have called on a swathe of Phoenix youngsters, including Sarpreet Singh, Logan Rogerson and Jack-Henry Sinclair, to fill the gaps.

"It's absolutely vital we're on the button come Sunday," Greenacre said.

"That pride thing's a real must. We have a togetherness at this club of wanting to dig in when we go through difficult stages.

"The boys really know what they need to do."

Greenacre says the team must shake off last week's underwhelming performance against Western Sydney, and the remaining senior players are well aware they need to lead the way.

"We've had to draw a line under the previous performance and say 'look, this is it, this is us, we know what's at stake now.

"You're the players we've got available this weekend and collectively, between all of us, it's do or die.'

"Some of the senior boys spoke and basically said 'that's it, we need to dig in this week and put in a real performance'."

He says that won't be easy against a Jets side still smarting from last week's 4-0 thumping away to Melbourne City.

Newcastle will also be boosted by the return of defender Jason Hoffman from a week's suspension as they look to record their first A-League win since late January.

Wellington's recent record has been equally uninspiring, picking up four points from a possible 18 over the last six weeks.

Greenacre is adamant there's still hope of a top-six spot.

"If results go for us and we can manage to get a result ourselves, we're still two points outside the mix with three to play."

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