Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay wants his team to relish the challenge of playing the A-League’s leading goalscorers Melbourne City.
While City’s six-game winning run came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Western United last Thursday, Patrick Kisnorbo’s men have scored a league-best 27 goals from their 13 games.
With Socceroos pair Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout as well as English winger Craig Noone all in good scoring form, Talay is aware of the threat his team have to nullify in Monday’s clash at WIN Stadium.
“Even though they lost their last game against Western United, they’re the in-form team currently in the competition,” Talay said.
“They’re a very fluid team, they play some really good attacking football and they’ve got some really good players that can hurt you.
“It’s a great opportunity for our players and a great challenge to step up and showcase themselves and show what they can actually do because I still believe we’re a great footballing team.
“I still believe we’ve played some really football this season at times but the inconsistency of players being in and out has hurt us this season.”
Talay confirmed veteran English defender Steven Taylor will miss the game after picking up a quad strain in the 1-0 loss to Macarthur last Sunday.
Olyroo Reno Piscopo is also “highly unlikely” to recover from the calf injury that meant he missed the clash with the Bulls.
Taylor’s injury means Joshua Laws or Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi will line-up in central defence alongside Tim Payne for Monday’s game.
City coach Patrick Kisnorbo hailed the form of 33-year-old Noone, who scored his fifth goal of the season against Western United.
“He’s been fantastic,” Kisnorbo said.
“He’s got assists. He’s got goals. His workrate’s fantastic.
“When you train hard and you work hard it pays off. I’m really happy about that.”
KEY MATCH STATS
* Despite failing to find the target against Western United, Jamie Maclaren remains the league’s top scorer with 12 goals.
* Wellington have managed just two clean sheets in their 14 games this season, equal-lowest with Melbourne Victory.
* This will be City’s first game in Wollongong. Wellington have won just two of their seven matches at their adopted home this season.