Terris back for vital Hawke's Bay clash
Captain Dan Terris returns to the Canterbury United rearguard for tomorrow's season-defining national football league clash with Hawke's Bay United in Napier.
Hawke's Bay are third and Canterbury fourth and both teams need to win to clinch a place in the ASB premiership playoffs.
Canterbury's cause has been boosted by Terris' comeback from a hamstring injury which has sidelined him for four matches since Christmas.
The 31-year-old centreback or right back's experience and leadership has been missed in the Dragons' defence. They will need to be on their mettle to contain the league's fastest forward and prolific scorer, Sean Lovemore.
But the red-and-black attack has been robust in recent weeks with eight goals scored in the last two games.
Aaron Clapham, Canterbury's stand-in skipper, struck twice this week and Ken Yamamoto has three goals in two starts on the left flank.
Hawke's Bay have everything to play for. They have never qualified for the playoffs in the league's nine-year history and coach Chris Greatholder will feel this is this year.
Canterbury beat the Bay 4-0 in Christchurch in the pre-Christmas round but Park Island is a much tougher place to get a result with Hawke's Bay bolstered by a parochial Napier crowd.
But victory would allow the Dragons - two points behind the Bay - to take over third place. It would be a definite advantage to be third seed for the playoffs rather than fourth and face a home-and-away semifinal against the top team.
Ex-All White Cole Peverley and Conor Tinnion return from suspension for Hawke's Bay but former international striker Jarrod Smith has been ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury. Peverley's midfield duel with Clapham - who got the better of the encounter in Christchurch where Peverley was sent off - will again be critical.
Russell Kamo, Ash Wellbourn and Yamamoto will want to make sure former Canterbury skipper Bill Robertson, now captaining Hawke's Bay from centreback, has a busy afternoon.
Canterbury have won 12 of the previous 21 games between the teams, with most of Hawke's Bay's seven victories occurring at home.