Hearfield moves back

Troy Hearfield has been on a steep learning curve this season as Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert looks to remodel the attacking midfielder into a right back.

Troy Hearfield has been on a steep learning curve this season as Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert looks to remodel the attacking midfielder into a right back.

Hearfield is set for just his third start of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League campaign on Friday night when table-toppers Melbourne Victory make the trip to Westpac Stadium.

Manny Muscat's three-match ban for violent conduct has opened the door for the Australian who is determined to make the most of his chance after spending the bulk of this season on the bench.

"It's unfortunate for Manny. He's a great guy and a great player but that's football and that's life," said Hearfield. "I'm going to try and grab the opportunity with both hands and hopefully I'll do that on Friday night and the next two games."

Hearfield admits he's had to adjust quickly to his new role at the back, which has meant curbing some of his natural attacking instinct.

"I've just been learning the game at right back at training. I've always been an attacking midfielder, an attacking player, throughout my career so it's a bit different.

"I'm fine going forward it's just I really have to work on the defensive side of my game.

"It's the positional awareness of where I am, keeping up with Andrew (Durante) and Siggy (Ben Sigmund) in the centre of defence."

"It's not really the tracking back it's more the positional sense of where I'm supposed to be and where the ball is at the same time."

The 22-year-old has been involved in all bar one match this season with his starts coming against his former club, the Newcastle Jets, in Round 1 and against the North Queensland Fury in Round 11 when Muscat had a short turnaround from his international duties with Malta.

He's played a part in helping the Phoenix to a 13-match unbeaten run at home - one short of the A-League record set by Sydney between October 2005 and October 2006 - and scored the last of the Phoenix's six goals in its rout of Gold Coast United in October.

That home record will be under threat from a Melbourne side buoyant after its 4-0 drubbing of Shane Smeltz's team last weekend.

But after going down 4-1 to the Roar in Brisbane and with its top six place under threat Hearfield says the Phoenix has a point to prove.

"(Victory) will be feeling confident of course but they also know we're a great side and we're a very good side at home."

"I think we play our best football at home and we'll grab it with both hands this week and show the fans and the rest of the league we can match it with the league leaders."

Daniel will make his 50th A-League appearance on Friday night, while goalkeeper Mark Paston, who missed the trip to Suncorp Stadium due to a leg injury, is set to return to the starting line-up in place of Reece Crowther.