Ifill eager to get started

While coach Ricki Herbert may be glad of the extra week to put the finishing touches to his Wellington Phoenix squad, Paul Ifill is impatient for the new Hyundai A-League season to start.

While coach Ricki Herbert may be glad of the extra week to put the finishing touches to his Wellington Phoenix squad, Paul Ifill is impatient for the new Hyundai A-League season to start.

The Phoenix will be bystanders as the 2010/11 campaign gets underway this week after being given an early bye following the inclusion of Melbourne Heart into the expanded competition.

It means Ifill and his team-mates must wait until August 13 to kick off their season against Gold Coast United at their Westpac Stadium fortress where they thumped them 6-0 last season.

"Some people say (a bye) is a good thing because you see what everyone is about and you get a week off. But I want to get into it yesterday," said the Phoenix playmaker.

"We're at home I suppose (for the first game) and against a team we normally do well against. I suppose you can't ask for more than that."

"But you're playing catch-up because a lot of the teams are going to be three points ahead of you. It's a funny old start."

Another feature of the new season is the introduction of mid-week games, something Ifill thought he had left behind when he headed south to New Zealand.

He warned that players would need to be smart in order to cope with the extra work-load.

"I think it will hit a lot of teams at some point. You're going to see more injuries because it is hard to back up," Ifill said.

"Sometimes people carry knocks and you can get away with it during the week and you can play say Saturday to Saturday quite comfortably. Sometimes when you've got a knock and you have to play mid-week it's just not possible to do it."

"That's why it's important you've got to get the right amount of players and the right personnel on board because I think squads are going to be tested this year."

Herbert has recruited well to bolster the core of the squad that remains from last season's run which was finally ended by Sydney one game short of the grand final.

Jade North, who is not expected to arrive at the club until after Australia's match against Slovenia in Slovenia on August 11, will fill the gap in defence left by the departure of Jon McKain to Saudi club Al-Nassr, while Herbert has gone for some creativity in signing attacking midfielder, Argentine Oscar Roberto Cornejo.

Up front Dylan Macallister has already made his mark scoring in two of the Phoenix's three pre-season matches after arriving from Central Coast and young striker Mirjan Pavlovic and defender James Musa are the team's under-21 signings.

Wellington are giving a trial to Indonesian international Bambang Pamungkas this week.

The forward had his first run with the team on Tuesday and Herbert said the 30-year-old striker was likely to get some game-time in the final pre-season hit out against the New Zealand Under-20s this weekend.

"It was a tough day for him. I won't make any assessment (just yet). He'll play part of the game on Saturday," the coach said.

"He's on trial so there is no pressure to sign him. We'll see. He's an exciting player who looks like he has a good future and we'll see if he can be part of the club."

Not surprisingly Pamungkas, who has scored 36 goals in 72 appearances for his country, was relishing the opportunity.

"It would be huge to play in the A-League. It's one of the best leagues in Asia," he said.

"I have experience with the national team so I think mentally I'm strong. Hopefully I can be part of this team."

"They have so many good players in the attacking third but they want me to trial here so maybe I have something they want. I'll just try my best."