Full squad means full expectations for Wellington Phoenix against Sydney FC video

WELLINGTON PHOENIX

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick and captain Andrew Durante are confident the team can get their first goal of the season on Sunday.

Weeks like these are the ones Ernie Merrick needs to earn his keep.

The Wellington Phoenix coach has, on paper, brought together the club's best squad ever, but across the first two weeks they have lost, failed to score and created few clear-cut chances. 

There have been excuses due to the international window in week one and travel to Perth last weekend, but those end this week.

The Wellington Phoenix need more from their front three, including Roy Krishna, if they are to break their goal-scoring ...
GETTY IMAGES

The Wellington Phoenix need more from their front three, including Roy Krishna, if they are to break their goal-scoring drought.

You never write a team off in week three - Adelaide United famously went winless in the first eight rounds last season before winning the Hyundai A-League title - but a performance is needed on Sunday against Sydney FC to reassure the fans that this season isn't going to go like last year.

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Sydney FC's Filip Holosko (centre) and Bobo (right) have been on fire in front of goal to start the season.
GETTY IMAGES

Sydney FC's Filip Holosko (centre) and Bobo (right) have been on fire in front of goal to start the season.


To do this, Merrick has to get the team executing his gameplan effectively.

That task will be aided by finally having his full squad to work with during the week.

"This is the first time I've been able to work with all the boys in three weeks and will have a full team available, so it's been good to be able to do some preparation work," Merrick said after training on Wednesday.

"The main is to be creating opportunities. Our possession was good against Perth for the first 20 minutes but we didn't get into enough dangerous areas for shooting opportunities...we do need to work on that front third and that's what we're doing here [at training]."

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Merrick said the service to the players making runs in behind, as well as the runs being made, needed to improve for heading into Sunday's game against a team who have won their first two games 4-0.

"It's very important we start scoring goals and winning games. I'd rather do it against a team that is expected to also be in the top four and that's the kind of pressure I think the players will respond to."

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante missed the first game due to All Whites duty, but was backing Merrick to get the team humming again this week.

"It's two games in, we've had a great pre-season and we feel positive. We believe in what Ernie is trying to do here, we've just got to tinker with a few things. 

"It's been a tough few weeks with All Whites away, but we'll put it behind us with a strong performance on Sunday." 

Durante said they needed to speed up their buildup play to catch teams out.

"We were a bit laboured moving the ball from side to side [against Perth] and when we did get it to the other side it just wasn't quick enough and they were able to close down the space.

"We've spoken about a few more runs in behind from the front guys to try and stretch that backline, and a few different things that we'll work on this week."

 - Stuff

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