Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer has backed their strong squad as the going gets tough following a 4-2 loss to Perth Glory.
But this is one of the best Nix squads in recent years, says the long serving midfielder, and he is encouraged by the strength in depth among the first team. He said: “We’ve got great depth and it helps massively, as you saw we have great impact off the bench and now it’s making sure were consistent and going up to Auckland to get three points.”
The Phoenix take on Melbourne City this weekend in a game that will provide an excellent indication of where they are - after losing to third placed Glory on Friday, head coach Ufuk Talay will be asking for the boys to lift their level.
But the strength in depth is pushing players to their limit. Talay rewards good performances with ongoing selection, which keeps everyone on their toes regardless of how many first team appearances they’ve made this season.
“I think its probably one of the best (squads we’ve had. The impact the boys have made has been really good. It helps massively to have that challenge and competition for spots. It’s really good for the team and keeps everyone on their toes,” added Rufer.
City are the leagues second top scorers, but have conceded four more than Wellington this season - which will give the Nix’s celebrated attack something to work with.
Gary Hooper hit a double as a substitute in Western Australia, while Ulises Davila has 10 for the season. They will be hoping to find a way past Melbourne’s suspect back line as the Phoenix take their show to Auckland.‘On paper Hooper is the most dangerous forward in the team, and Rufer knows it. “He can score and he’s a dangerous player,” added the midfielder. “He’s played at a high level and we need to use him as best we can.”