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Time short for Nix veterans to claim title

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/03/2017 Angelo Risso
Andrew Durante. © Ashley Feder/Getty Images Andrew Durante.

The sand is trickling through the hourglass for Wellington Phoenix's stalwarts, who need A-League silverware and need it now.

That's the rallying cry from Nix co-coach Chris Greenacre ahead of a pivotal six games for the football club, starting with Perth Glory in Albany on Saturday.

Veterans including Glen Moss, Andrew Durante, Vince Lia and Shane Smeltz have all toiled without reward for the Nix, who are yet to pick up an A-League gong.

And with the side sitting just one win outside the top six, Greenacre said the 2016-17 campaign could be among the quartet's last A-League stands.

"We've got a good leadership group with the senior players, time's kind of running out for those guys," Greenacre told reporters.

"They want finals, medals, silverware - they're hungry for success, and need to drag the younger players with them."

Having surprised Brisbane 2-1 last week, the Nix head into Saturday's showdown with their confidence renewed and a near full-strength squad available.

Mischevious trio Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry are all back in contention after their post-Melbourne City antics, while Gui Finkler has returned from Brazil.

Only Italian stopper Marco Rossi is out with a hamstring niggle, while crocked playmaker Mike McGlinchey is back on the grass but not yet match fit.

Dylan Fox, who came off the bench to keep the Roar relatively quiet on home turf last week, will start from the first minute alongside Durante at the back.

Greenacre said the pair would have their work cut out for them against the third-placed Glory, who can call on Diego Castro to orchestrate havoc in the final third.

Adam Taggart and target man Andy Keogh were also capable of a goal at any moment.

"It's not just about looking at one key player, they can hurt you in a number of areas and have done for everyone in the league," Greenacre said.

"Kenny Lowe's got a good strong side, lots of experience and they've got quality from defence to Keogh."

Compelled to improve their on and off-field performance by 2020 or face the chop, a return to finals football is critical for the Nix and their A-League status.

Yet Greenacre insisted he wasn't feeling the pressure as his mid-table team stares down the A-League home stretch, saying his expectations haven't changed.

"We're a team and squad and club that has to be in the finals, year in and year out, and that's what we're setting out to do," Greenacre said.

"The higher up the finals, the better.

"We've got six cup finals left."

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