Experimental Wellington Phoenix team named

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2012
Louis Fenton
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax NZ
START: Phoenix academy player Louis Fenton will get a start against URO United Sikkim in Imphal.

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The suspensions of three senior players has forced Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert to name an experimental lineup for the club's first game of their Indian tour.

The Phoenix will play URO United Sikkim in Imphal today, with academy players Tyler Boyd, Louis Fenton and Luke Rowe getting a start.

Regular left back Tony Lochhead shifts to central defence with Cameron Lindsay getting a start in midfield.

Herbert is without captain Andrew Durante, Manny Muscat and Ben Sigmund who are all serving suspensions from Saturday's fiery pre-season loss to the Newcastle Jets.

Herbert said the tour was always meant to challenge the players.

"We are going into a real football area," he said.

"A big crowd is expected and that will be good for the players, especially the young ones who haven't been in that environment before. I will rotate the team a bit but still want them to play well and get results. We won't hold back. I want them to play with high energy and keep up a good tempo. The weather [in the high 30s] is very demanding, but that is why we are here. I want the players challenged."

The Phoenix have had an interesting buildup to the match.

The tourists arrived in Delhi on Sunday evening and were out on the training ground in 40 degree Celsius heat on Monday morning.

On Tuesday they headed for the hotel gym with training cancelled because of torrential rain and a flooded training ground.

United Sikkim's most interesting player is former India international Bhaichung Bhutia.

The 36-year-old converted centre back, who retired from the national team in January, founded the club and is also the chief executive.

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- The Dominion Post

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