AAP Soccer

Rudan not a factor for motivated Phoenix

By AAP Newswire

Wellington see the third instalment of their rivalry with Western United as a chance to showcase how far they've come this A-League season, not get one over former coach Mark Rudan.

There's also the opportunity to cement a top six position and keep the visitors well on the outer if they can secure victory at Sky Stadium on Friday.

Western United arrive at a low ebb, having picked up one point from their last three games to drift four points behind sixth-placed Brisbane and seven points shy of the Phoenix.

Wellington's form has been a contrast, particularly at home, where they've won six of their last seven to be safely nestled in fifth place.

Their confidence on home soil is a far cry from the opening round, when they went down 1-0 to Rudan's men in a nervous performance.

That result was especially disappointing for fans who were upset by the former coach's departure from the Phoenix midway through his contract at the end of last season, taking a number of key players with him.

Revenge came just after Christmas when Wellington outclassed Western United 3-1 in Ballarat, in arguably their best display under new coach Ufuk Talay.

Defender Luke DeVere said the current players hadn't factored Rudan's presence into their motivation this week, instead wanting to demonstrate that their progress is still on an upward curve.

"Obviously there's a little bit more added fuel to it in terms of that (Rudan), more in terms of the media and the fans I guess," DeVere said.

"If you look at that first game we played against them and then that second one down at Ballarat, it was chalk and cheese in terms of both the performance and the result.

"Hopefully we can build on that."

Former Socceroo DeVere has enjoyed a new lease of life in Wellington after an injury-plagued second stint in Brisbane.

He was arguably the best player on show in last week's 1-0 upset of Melbourne City at Eden Park, frustrating the visitors' classy attack with a host of clearances and successful duels.

The 30-year-old had enjoyed forming a tight central defensive pairing with captain Steven Taylor and said all of the players felt energised under Talay.

"It's depth, it's competition for places and it's young players that are itching to get a chance," he said.

Talay has close to a full strength team to choose from, with fullback Tim Payne back from suspension and midfielders Reno Piscopo and Cameron Devlin having shaken off ankle complaints.