New Zealand’s international friendly against China next month means Wellington’s All Whites players face playing three games in eight days.
The clash against China on November 14 will be the second time in two months that the Phoenix players who also represent their country have been forced into such a heavy schedule, after they played three matches in a week during early October.
Six All Whites, Phoenix and New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, plus Solomon Islands striker Benjamin Totori, missed the Phoenix’s draw with Melbourne Heart earlier this month because of World Cup qualifying matches.
The All Whites played back-to-back games, home and away, against Tahiti before the players returned for the 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar last Sunday.
Those six – Mark Paston, Glen Moss, Ben Sigmund, Leo Bertos, Tony Lochhead and Jeremy Brockie – the majority of whom are regular starters for the Phoenix are all likely to be called up again by Herbert for the trip to Shanghai which falls between a home match against Central Coast Mariners on November 11 and an away trip to Newcastle Jets on November 18.
But Phoenix general manager David Dome said the club were ‘reasonably comfortable’ that New Zealand Football was taking the necessary steps to mitigate the stresses on the players involved in the Shanghai friendly.
“We’re not concerned. We’re monitoring it, put it that way,” Dome told Sportal.
“We’ve got our sport science people all across it and we’re working with New Zealand Football to minimise the impact on the players.”
Dome hasn’t ruled out the possibility of handing out one-match contracts to the club’s school of excellence players again either if the need arose.
They did that for the Heart game when Auckland City’s Jacob Spoonley was also given a one-game deal alongside academy players Luke Rowe, Tom Biss and Scott Basalaj.
“That’s something we will investigate,” said Dome. “Ricki will manage that with his coaching team. If he thinks that we need cover from the football school of excellence then we’ll look at that at that time.”