Hernandez, Rufer in Wellington Phoenix squad

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
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FAIRFAX NZ
GET IN: Alex Rufer is in the Phoenix squad to face Adelaide United.

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Carlos Hernandez and Alex Rufer have been included in the Wellington Phoenix squad for Sunday's must-win home match against Adelaide United.

Hernandez has missed the Phoenix's last two A-League games with a calf injury, but the star midfielder was included in an 18-man squad yesterday.

A Phoenix spokesman said Hernandez's chances of playing hinged on how his troublesome calf came through training today and tomorrow.

Teenage midfielder Rufer is also in the mix to make his second Phoenix appearance against Adelaide.

Rufer made his debut against the Jets in Newcastle last month but has not been sighted since.

Centre back Ben Sigmund returns from suspension, while Luke Adams drops out of the squad.

With three rounds to go, the eighth-placed Phoenix are four points off the playoff pace, following Saturday's disastrous 5-0 loss to the Jets.

Adelaide are in fifth place, but have lost experienced defender Jon McKain for the match at Westpac Stadium.

Adelaide striker Awer Mabil told footballaustralia.com.au that he was expecting the Phoenix to be hurting on Sunday.

"Wellington is a good team, and we know it's not a good place to go to try and get a result," said Mabil, who has scored a 90th-minute goal in his last two games against the Phoenix.

"It's always hard playing against a team that has lost the week before, but they will be extra motivated after the way they lost. You always want to bounce back and redeem yourselves, and they will want it more than anyone. It's going to be a tough game. They have been playing good at home, but we need to get a win to stay in the (top six), so we're going there for a result."

The Phoenix have announced that kids will be allowed onto Westpac Stadium after the game for the first time.

Meanwhile, Brisbane could turn a dominant A-League season into a record-breaking one if they can extend their league lead by three more points before the end of the campaign.

The Roar wrapped up the 2013-14 premiership with a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory last weekend for a 10-point lead with three rounds remaining.

If they can extend that advantage to 13 points, it will eclipse the Victory's 12 points in 2006-07 as the biggest final margin between first and second.

Brisbane host Melbourne Heart tonight.

"We've never been a club that's focused on the points, to be honest," said Roar captain Matt Smith.

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"We've always been a club that's focused on performances."

- Fairfax Media

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