Wellington Phoenix manager Ufuk Talay has said hell ease marquee signing Gary Hooper into the side as the forward has only played 83 minutes all season.
After going four games without a win the Nix suddenly find themselves amid the green shoots of revival as they won their last two games 2-1. First came a home win against Brisbane Roar, managed by former Premier League legend Robbie Fowler, and then Talay masterminded an away victory over Adelaide United.
Hooper made a substitute appearance in the United fixture and is set for more game time in Auckland when the Phoenix take on Western Sydney. “Were slowly building him up. He got 24 minutes against Adelaide and well hopefully give him more in this game,” said Talay ahead of the clash.
The former Celtic goal machines absence hasn’t been too keenly felt because of another summer import. Mexican Ulises Davila, once of Chelsea, has hit the ground running during his debut campaign in New Zealand and has scored five goals and created one assist in his seven A-League games.
Room for two
It can be difficult to shoehorn two attacking talents into the side. Often you risk disrupting the structure of a successful team or one of the duo is forced to play out of position, but Talay doesn’t think this will be an issue with Hooper and Davila.
“When they’re both available well find a way for them to both play,” said the manager. “Centrally he’s (Davila) very effective and he does less running backwards, so when we get the ball hes a lot fresher going forwards. When the time comes well work it out.”
That gives Phoenix fans the exciting prospect of seeing two of the leagues best forwards operating in tandem, and if Hooper can continue to get more and minutes, this fantasy might become reality before Christmas.