Football 2 years ago

Ferreira, Austin to start against Phoenix

  • Ferreira, Austin to start against Phoenix

Star Central Coast wingers Fabio Ferreira and Mitch Austin will almost certainly start against Wellington on New Year's Eve, as the Mariners attempt to turn around their miserable run of A-League losses.

Portuguese X-factor Ferreira has been making a gradual return from the bench the past two matches, following a lengthy injury lay-off.

Austin, who has earned his own plaudits for his flying runs down the left flank, sat out last Saturday's 4-1 thumping by Sydney FC with a virus.

But coach Tony Walmsley backed both to return at Central Coast Stadium on Thursday night.

"There's no doubt we're at our best with Fab Ferreira and Mitch Austin on the wings," Walmsley said.

"Both are fit and available, and I can confidently say both will probably start the game.

"Fab's not going to last 90 minutes, but we'll make sure we've got people on the bench that can come in and do a job."

Young back-up goalkeeper Tom Heward-Belle will make his A-League starting debut in place of suspended Paul Izzo, who was given his marching orders in the first half against Sydney.

Skipper Nick Montgomery backed Heward-Belle's form, but said the self-assured 18-year-old didn't need encouragement.

"There's no pressure on Tommy and he's not nervous, he's a confident guy and I think everyone will enjoy watching him tomorrow night," Montgomery said.

"The boys will rally around him, but to be honest he's pretty cool.

"He's a pretty laid-back character, but you can see in his eyes he's focused and desperate to take his opportunity."

With a club-record six consecutive losses, 11 winless games and only five points from the opening 12 rounds, Central Coast will need a miracle to challenge for the finals.

First and foremost, Walmsley is after a result.

He's under no pressure from management with his mandate to entertain and not worry about winning, but even he flagged the need to boost squad morale as they enter a new year.

"As a manager, the only place to go is inward first. Look in the mirror, what are you doing, what can you do differently, what can you do better?" Walmsley said.

"My ambition every week when I put a team out on the field is that they deliver to their potential, the potential I believe that they have.

"We haven't done that particularly well the last few weeks ... it affects psyche, your mentality, your level of confidence.

"We need to be better in all areas."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Wellington are undefeated in their past six matches against Central Coast (three wins, three draws).

* The Phoenix are without victory in their past six away games, their longest streak since March 2013.

* The Mariners have allowed their opponents the most shots on target this season (70) and conceded the most goals (28).

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