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Herbert backs fixture change

Ricki Herbert has praised the decision to move Wellington’s game against Newcastle Jets because of a clash with World Cup qualifying.

The Jets are fuming that the match has been moved from its original date of March 23 to February 27 because it clashes with New Zealand’s World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia (March 22) and the Solomon Islands (March 26).

Jets coach Gary van Egmond said the decision was “insulting” and has suggested they may send a weakened team for the clash at Westpac Stadium next month.

Newcastle will have to play three games in 10 days, with fixtures against Brisbane Roar at home and Melbourne Victory away sandwiching the trip to Wellington.

But Herbert had little sympathy for his opponents. The Phoenix will have to play three matches in eight days in that period and had to send a depleted side to Melbourne Heart in round two when a good chunk of their squad were away on World Cup qualifying duty.

“We probably weren’t happy having to play the one with eight players away,” said Herbert.

“I think there’s probably a little bit of justice done and thanks to the FFA.

“A World Cup is a massive tournament for any country. It’s pleasing (the fixture has been moved).”

Herbert has more pressing issues at the moment with his side sitting bottom of the A-League ahead of an important trip to ninth-placed Sydney FC.

Goalkeeper Glen Moss and playmaker Paul Ifill will return to the squad for Saturday’s match but defensive midfielder Manny Muscat is still suspended.

“Paul probably won’t start,” revealed Herbert.

“It will be good to have him back in the environment. We’ll do a little bit of work there Friday night and he’ll be part of that as well.

“He’s been out of it for a wee while now and it will be good for his head space to get back and be part of the main group.”

Thu 17 Jan, 2013
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