Ben Sigmund and Louis Fenton are in doubt for Wellington Phoenix’s clash with cellar-dwellers Sydney FC on Sunday.
Sigmund has been struggling with a niggling groin injury, while Fenton has an ankle problem and neither took a full part in training on Friday.
Coach Ricki Herbert will give the pair, who he rated a 50-50 chance of playing, until Saturday to prove their fitness.
“Ben seems a little bit better today. Fingers crossed he’s okay,” Herbert said.
“Louis is young and I’m sure that adrenalin will get through his body and hopefully he’ll be okay as well.”
Michael Boxall is the ready-made replacement for Sigmund at centre-back, having already stepped in for the New Zealander when he was on international duty with the All Whites and again when Sigmund was suspended for the match against Melbourne Victory.
Boxall also played when skipper Andrew Durante missed the Brisbane Roar game through illness.
The Phoenix captain admitted losing his regular defensive partner would be a blow, but one the team would cope with.
“(Sigmund) has been one of the standouts this year,” said Durante. “I get on really well with him and I’m quite comfortable playing with him so if he’s out it will be a bit of a loss.
“But Boxall has shown that he’s good enough to step in. He’s done that a couple of times this year for myself and Sigmund. I don’t think we lose too much.”
If Fenton fails to recover for Sunday’s clash at Westpac Stadium, Dani Sanchez is likely to take his place on the bench. It will be the Spaniard’s first A-League game since undergoing knee surgery during the off-season.
He has had a couple of outings with the Phoenix A side in recent weeks and played for them in their 2-1 win over New Zealand side Waitakere United on Wednesday.
Sanchez’s return means Ricardo Clarke’s stay at the club has ended and he has returned to Panama.
Herbert also confirmed that goalkeeper Glen Moss will undergo surgery on his sports hernia next week.
“They think it’s about 7-10 days (after surgery) from a recovery point of view. He should be good in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Griffin McMaster will remain with the club as back-up to Mark Paston until Moss is fit.
Sydney FC will also field a different-looking side to the one that lost 2-0 to the Phoenix in the opening round.
New coach Frank Farina will be without Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero (hamstring), while Terry Antonis and Brett Emmerton are away on Socceroos duty.
Youngster Mitch Mallia is being touted as a possible replacement for Del Piero, although Jason Culina, who has made two appearances off the bench, is also in the mix.
The visitors have a poor record in Wellington and return to the New Zealand capital on a run of five games without a win.
“Like any side in the league, I’m sure their expectations were to be at the top not the bottom,” said Herbert. “They will be hungry but our form is good too. We’ve got to keep going and hopefully we can get another three (points) this week.”