Carlos Hernandez open to another good offer
Carlos Hernandez has enjoyed his first season in Wellington but concedes there is a chance that today could be his last game in a Phoenix shirt.
Despite missing six games through injury, the Costa Rican international has proven his class, with his seven goals and eight assists ranking behind only Adam Taggart and James Troisi for statistical attacking impact.
Hernandez turned 32 on Wednesday and received the best possible birthday present, taking a call from national coach Jorge Luis Pinto to inform him he had made a 27-man squad for a World Cup training camp later this month.
The creative midfielder is contracted to the Phoenix next season but concedes there are no guarantees in football.
"I have one more year but I don't know," Hernandez said.
"Football, things happen, if one team has a good offer for me. At the moment I have a contract with the Phoenix for one more year and I'm focused for the national team. But say I go to the World Cup, maybe that opens the door because an offer comes."
Hernandez is high quality and high maintenance in equal measures.
His unpredictable attitude can frustrate others in the team environment and, not for the first time, he earned a verbal slap from his long-time coach Ernie Merrick for his petulant reaction to being substituted last month.
But the Phoenix are in danger of retaining the wooden spoon if they fail to beat Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium today and need players of Hernandez's ability if they are to turn things around in 2014-15.
Hernandez was excellent in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Sydney FC, scoring a penalty and providing quality service that his strikers were unable to convert.
"Personally I think I've played a very good season," Hernandez said.
"Seven goals, eight assists, I'm fighting for the best player, the Johnny Warren [Medal] and the Les Murray [Medal]. The team, sometimes you have little problems but that's normal, you know. I've enjoyed it, my family has enjoyed it and I'm very happy.
"I try my best for Phoenix. Never in my five years at Victory was I 79 kilograms. The players now understand how Ernie wants to play and hopefully next season we'll play very good."
With his first season ending in disappointing fashion, Merrick will move quickly next week to make calls on off-contract players.
Paul Ifill's injured Achilles will be given time to heal before a decision is made. However, Stein Huysegems, Leo Bertos, Shaun Timmins, Luke Adams, Josh Brindell-South, Hamish Watson and Justin Gulley can expect to learn their fates swiftly.
"I haven't beat about the bush in the past," Merrick said.
"After the last game we'll have our final discussions and decisions will be made . . . The boys are really quite keen to finish on a high note for the fans that have supported us all year."
Ben Sigmund's quad injury means Adams will get a rare start in central defence, a daunting assignment against a Victory frontline consisting of Troisi, Archie Thompson, Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler.
Goalkeeper Glen Moss is struggling with a hip flexor injury sustained against Sydney and told The World Game that "unfortunately that's it for me as far as the A-League season goes".
But a Phoenix spokesman said Moss would likely sit on the bench, with All White Jacob Spoonley getting the gig in goal.