Elrich keen for Phoenix

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Ahmad Elrich will be keen to put 2009 behind him with a victory against the Wellington Phoenix on New Year's eve.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Ahmad Elrich will be keen to put 2009 behind him with a victory against the Wellington Phoenix on New Year's eve.

The match looms as a possible comeback game for Elrich after recovering from a long term knee injury.

Elrich played the full 90 minutes of the Mariners' 2-1 National Youth League victory over Sydney FC last Wednesday, signalling the first time since October 18 the former Socceroo and English Premier League player had featured in Yellow and Navy from whistle to whistle.

"I think I needed the 90 minutes," Elrich said.

"It has been about six weeks coming off the bench so it's always good to get 90 minutes, and that way I can feel better when I play for the first team."

Elrich re-joined his teammates on Boxing Day to prepare for the New Year's Eve battle with their trans-Tasman rivals, and says there's a feeling within the camp of reinvigoration, as it focuses on snapping a four match losing streak.

"It's been a good few days off, and while it was disappointing we lost, it's a good challenge for us to bounce back against Wellington."

"It's going to be a good test for us because they are hovering around the same spots as us on the ladder, so you want to win to (help) cement that top four finish," said Elrich.

While the Central Coast entered the record books last Wednesday with the unwanted statistic of registering their first ever four-game losing streak, the 28-year-old insists the squad is determined to continue a longstanding tradition of standing tall when times are tough.

"That's what the club is built with. They've always shown a lot of character and its what the club strives on."

"It's a good test for us, we need a win, and hopefully that's what we can give the fans. We don't want to go five losses in a row, so looking forward to the game," Elrich said.

For Elrich, and his Mariners' teammate Adam Kwasnik, the match will represent a chance to renew old acquaintances, the pair both having spent time in the Kiwi capital.

Conversely, Phoenix midfielder Adrian Caceres will make his first trip back to Gosford since his departure in September, should he be named in his new club's 15-man squad.

"Wellington was a great experience. The guys are fantastic, Ricki (Herbert) is a fantastic guy, the owners are great and it was a different thing for me. I enjoyed it, they're good lads, and it'll be great to catch up with them," said Elrich.