Ifill a chance to face Sydney
Paul Ifill's chances of playing against Sydney FC in Wellington's A-League opener early next month appear to be improving.
Ifill suffered a small tear in his right medial collateral ligament and bruising to his right ankle in a training game last week and was expected to be out for almost a month, meaning he will be touch and go to play against Sydney marquee man Alessandro Del Piero in the league opener at Westpac Stadium.
The 32-year-old playmaker sat out Tuesday night's 5-0 win in a practice game against a local Team Wellington select XI, however coach Ricki Herbert was upbeat about Ifill's chances of playing.
"Paul is running, which is a huge step forward from what we thought he might do," said Herbert when asked about the former Crystal palace striker.
"I don't want to put the mockers on it but I think he's a chance for the opening game."
However the coach does not expect Dani Sanchez to feature until mid-to-late November.
Sanchez has had surgery on a troublesome knee and Herbert thinks the Spanish midfielder will not feature until the Round 7 clash away to Newcastle Jets.
"Dani is longer term given the operation and putting weight on the leg," Herbert said.
"I wouldn't foresee him featuring until probably the middle-to-end of November.
"He's had it all done (the operation). It's just a healing process now and it's probably going to take that long."
The Phoenix could be struggling for numbers early in the campaign as Sanchez joins Vince Lia and Jimmy Downey (both knee) on the sidelines, while Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund and Andrew Durante are all serving suspensions following a spiteful pre-season clash with Newcastle.