Herbert shuffles defence

Vinnie Lia looks set to start at right back, strengthening Wellington's defence as the Phoenix look to get back to winning ways in their Friday night clash with Newcastle.

Vinnie Lia looks set to start at right back, strengthening Wellington's defence as the Phoenix look to get back to winning ways in their Friday night clash with Newcastle.

With Paul Ifill (groin), Nicky Ward (concussion) and Tony Lochhead (groin) unavailable through injury, coach Ricki Herbert is leaning towards starting Daniel and Dani Sanchez in midfield and moving Lia into a defensive role for the match in Wellington.

Brent Griffiths, who has deputised for Lochhead at left back for the past two matches, struggled against the Victory in the 3-1 loss last Sunday and Lia finished that match at right-back with Manny Muscat switching over to the left.

Lochhead is expected to make his return next week, while Jimmy Downey is likely to feature against the Jets off the bench on his comeback from a knee injury.

"We finished with Muscat, (Ben) Sigmund, (Andrew) Durante and Lia (at the back against Victory) and that's a possibility," Herbert said.

"Tony Lochhead will be back next week or pretty close to seeing about him travelling to Adelaide. So we've probably just got to plug a gap at the back for just one week.

"(Vinnie) can play right-back. He's played right-back for us before. He's an option to do that.

"(Newcastle) are quite lively out wide too. Jeremy Brockie is playing very, very well for them. Ryan Griffiths is up front too. They could be a handful there."

Daniel and Dani Sanchez worked well together in midfield last Sunday and showed a willingness to move the ball when they came on in the second half against the Victory.

Sanchez has been easing his way back into action following a hip flexor injury and a minor knee knock, while Daniel is eager to get his chance after playing only a bit part in the season to date.

"He should be all right to start," said Herbert of Sanchez. "I'll just wait till the morning to make sure he's 100 percent but it's all looking good at the moment.

"They were good last weekend. They were lively and I said to Daniel this morning 'If you start then you need to show us that right from the get-go, not just coming off the bench'.

Newcastle have got a poor record against the Phoenix in Wellington having lost all seven previous games there.

But Herbert said his team would not be relying on the 'home' factor.

"We've still got to play well. We showed that this year. If you play well you're going to get results."

He also warned his team that a repeat of the sluggish opening against the Victory, where they were three goals down inside 25 minutes, would not be tolerated.

"I don't want to say we're at home so it's going to be better. No matter where we were you'd want a better start than that," stressed Herbert.