Western United finally returns to the pitch on Friday for the first time in nearly a month, with a first interstate trip of the season to face Wellington Phoenix.
Wellington Phoenix vs Western United
Friday, January 21
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
Wellington Phoenix: WLLLL
Western United: WWWWL
Western United lost its last match against Melbourne Victory back on Boxing Day, but prior to that had been on a brilliant run to begin the season.
Four straight 1-0 victories over Perth Glory, Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United have propelled the Green and Black towards the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men table.
Wellington on the other hand have the direct opposite run of form over their last five fixtures. Ufuk Talay’s side has lost its last four league matches, conceding 12 goals in the process, and earned its solitary A-League Men victory over Central Coast Mariners in Round 2.
But the Phoenix have enjoyed some success in the FFA Cup, with a penalty shootout victory over Melbourne City at the beginning of the month earning them a semi-final berth against Melbourne Victory next week.
Wellington has been something of a bogey team for Western United in its short history, with the New Zealanders controlling the head-to-head battle to date.
United beat Wellington in its first ever match back in 2019 but has gone winless in the next five A-League Men meetings. The Phoenix also knocked United out of the FFA Cup earlier in this season.
Western United Head Coach John Aloisi confirmed that around 20 players had contracted COVID-19 over the last few weeks, leaving only a handful of squad members yet to be affected.
But following all of the necessary protocols, the full squad has returned to training and Aloisi will have just about a full squad to choose from.
Rene Krhin has joined training but will be given at least one more week to work himself up to fitness, while Sebastian Pasquali and Rhys Bozinovski remain longer term absentees.
What John Aloisi is saying
On finally getting back out on the pitch
“Very excited. During the season, you just want to play games. The players especially are the ones that want to keep on playing.
“The players have recovered; they’ve had some good training and we’re ready to go on Friday night.”
On whether there is any trepidation ahead of the first interstate trip of the season
“More excited – the players are excited, because the new boys haven’t beenable to do tjheir singing as they normally do on the first away trip.
“We were unlucky that we didn’t get to go away in pre-season at all. Normally you get to go away and there’s that bonding and players getting to know each other even more so.
“So the players are really excited and looking forward to travelling and going away together. Nothing else but ready and wanting to play our first away game of the season.”