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A-League top-four finish viable: Phoenix

AAP logoAAP 26/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Wellington still believe a top-four A-League finish is feasible and hope to cash in on a string of home fixtures and striker Shane Smeltz's imminent availability to get there.

The Phoenix held a mostly dominant Newcastle to a 2-2 away draw on Boxing Day, stretching their undefeated post-Ernie Merrick revival to three games.

It's a positive sign for the future of interim co-coaches Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre, who are said to be in line for upgrades to make their positions permanent before the New Year rolls around.

While a win would have propelled them to fifth just three weeks after languishing in last, Monday's stalemate leaves them in eighth - seven points shy of fourth-placed Melbourne City.

That said, the Phoenix have a game in hand, and Buckingham pointed to other factors in their favour.

"We welcome back two players next week in Alex Rodriguez and Michael McGlinchey," Buckingham said.

"We've got a string of home games coming up at the Westpac - one next week and three in January - and that's also when Shane Smeltz becomes available.

"If we can cash in on our home games, we get more opportunities to train at home because there's not so much travel.

"We feel we're in a strong position to kick onto where we want to go, which is the playoffs.

"The team is in a position where we still feel the top four is viable."

After hosting bottom-placed Adelaide on New Year's Day, Wellington will head to Perth for the distance derby.

However they'll then enjoy a valuable travel break featuring three consecutive home games against Central Coast, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane.

There's also hope the floodgates might open for Kosta Barbarouses after he netted his first goal of the season against the Jets before Gui Finkler put away the second.

It ended a long wait for Barbarouses, who hadn't scored since playing against the Phoenix in round 26 of last season.

"It's probably been a while coming so we're delighted for him," Greenacre said.

"He took it very well and was a thorn in their side all afternoon.

"Goals breed confidence for any striker ... hopefully that's the start of it for Kosta to score more goals."

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