AAP Soccer

Phoenix buoyant after eight-goal rampage

By AAP Newswire

Mark Rudan says an eight-goal rout of Central Coast and a long-awaited return to Wellington has his Phoenix players believing they can cement an A-League home play-off berth.

The record 8-2 thumping of the hapless Mariners last week was no fluke, coach Rudan believes, and they're hungry for more in Sunday's match against Western Sydney.

It is 51 days since the Phoenix last played at Westpac Stadium and though their record since then hasn't been flash - two losses, two draws and the Mariners triumph - they have nevertheless climbed to fourth.

With a relatively kind run-in, Rudan is confident his players have a renewed drive to finish in the top four and host a finals match for the first time since 2015.

"Three things important to any football club are confidence, belief and momentum and we've got all three after a performance like that," Rudan said.

"It really is in our hands and I believe the players are more than up for the road ahead."

Rudan is wary of the eighth-placed Wanderers, who have won three of their last four. Western Sydney also handed the Phoenix arguably their most emphatic defeat under Rudan when they prevailed 3-0 in Wellington in round three.

The hosts must await a fitness test for English defender Steven Taylor, who has missed the last two games with a calf strain.

Rudan is also likely to shift rookie Australian Max Burgess into an attacking playmaker role. He'll replace Sarpreet Singh, who was suspended following a yellow card against the Mariners - a game in which the gifted Kiwi registered two goals and two assists.

Rudan said former Sydney Olympic NPL player Burgess had been a revelation this season, primarily off the bench.

The 24-year-old was arguably his team's best in an unaccustomed role last week, replacing the suspended Alex Rufer in central midfield.

Meanwhile, Rudan didn't want to comment further on his future at the club.

The 43-year-old revealed last week he's put an ultimatum to Phoenix bosses that they relocate his family from Sydney or he will quit his contract with a year remaining on a two-season deal.