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Hip problem has Cernak in doubt

22 February 2013 04:19

Wellington midfielder Isaka Cernak looks unlikely to face Adelaide United on Sunday as he continues to struggle with a hip flexor injury.

The recent arrival from Melbourne Victory left the field early in the Phoenix's 2-0 loss to Brisbane Roar last Sunday with the problem and Wellington coach Ricki Herbert rates the Australian's chances for the Westpac Stadium clash as 'pretty little'.

Goalkeeper Mark Paston, who dropped to the bench for last weekend's game against the Roar, also missed training on Friday through illness but is expected recover in time.

If he doesn't, Herbert's options for a back-up keeper to Glen Moss will be limited and goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould could have to deputise.

"It's tough because of the (transfer) window and we can't get Kiwi boys in and I would doubt there would be somebody from offshore at this stage. I think Mark will be okay though."

Aside from the two players in doubt, Herbert gave little away about his plans for the must-win match, the first of three in seven days for the cellar-dwellers.

Jeremy Brockie is available again after missing the 2-0 loss at Suncorp Stadium through suspension.

But Herbert said the heavy workload would not be a factor in picking his starting XI.

"We'll just look at this one as a completely separate game. There are three points on the table," he said.

"It's there if we're good enough. We'll keep the players on their toes until (Saturday) and see what happens. I've spoken with the players about that. I'll wait and see how we train."

There is no doubt players are on notice after just one win in eight matches in 2013, especially regulars who are off contract at the end of the season - Leo Bertos, Paston, Tony Lochhead, Dani Sanchez and Benjamin Totori.

"There are points on the table. There are fans to go out and play for and some of them haven't got their contracts re-signed yet," said Herbert. "I think there's a bit on (the game) for them."

Captain Andrew Durante agreed.

"They want to be here, there's no question about that. I guess they are playing for their futures."

Somewhat strangely, the Phoenix are also still playing for a top-six playoff spot. Despite being bottom of the league – with just five wins to their credit so far - they are only six points off sixth-placed Newcastle Jets, who they play next Wednesday night.

"It's kind of funny that we've still got a chance to be in the playoffs considering how poor we've been at times this season," admitted Durante.

"That's the way the league is set up ... and the finals system is even better this year because it gives the lower ranked teams probably more of a chance to take out the trophy.

"I guess that's what we hang on to, that there's always a chance."

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A-League table

# Team MP D P
6 0 +0 0
7 0 +0 0
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