Wellington Phoenix veterans Paul Ifill and Vince Lia will return from injury tomorrow to play in the club's final pre-season game against Manawatu.
The duo completed a training session at Newtown Park today and Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said they would each probably get 45 minutes of action in Palmerston North against the national league stragglers.
Ifill, 32, suffered a small tear in his right knee's medial collateral ligament and ankle bruising in a pre-season game against Petone on September 11.
Herbert said the club's all-time leading goalscorer needed to prove his fitness tomorrow to be considered for the Phoenix's A-League opener against Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on October 6.
''Paul's good, you can normally tell with him, he's got some good banter around this morning so he's feeling good,'' Herbert said.
''I think he'll be OK, he looks fine, he just hasn't really had the matches now. He did a little bit in India [on the club's pre-season tour] but he's missed quite a bit of work so he'll be marginal I'd say for Sydney.''
Lia, 27, missed the tour of India with his knee injury, and while the defensive midfielder will feature at Memorial Park tomorrow, he almost certainly won't against Sydney.
''At first we thought it was only going to be a couple of weeks so that's kind of lingered on, it's probably been a few months now,'' Herbert said.
''But it's been good, we've got a couple of extra bodies back this week so pleasing. They'll both play. I'll probably give them 45 minutes, I think, to see where they're at. They've done well today so fingers crossed.''
Herbert also confirmed Mark Paston was likely to wear the goalkeeping gloves in round one ahead of All Whites team-mate Glen Moss.
- The Dominion Post
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