Ifill in line to return

Paul Ifill is hoping to put a 'nightmare' stop-start first half of the season behind him as he prepares to make his comeback from a groin injury against Sydney in Wellington on Wednesday.

Paul Ifill is hoping to put a 'nightmare' stop-start first half of the season behind him as he prepares to make his comeback from a groin injury against Sydney in Wellington on Wednesday.

Ifill has missed the Wellington Phoenix's last three Hyundai A-League matches with a groin strain after missing five weeks near the start of the campaign with a groin tear.

When he has played the English import has been at his creative best at the heart of the Phoenix's attack, helping them earn a draw against Adelaide United in Auckland and scoring in wins against Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar.

"It's been a nightmare and because I feel like I'm in good form it's even worse," the 32-year-old said.

"Sometimes it's a blessing when you are out of form and you have a little knock and you're out for a week or two.

"But I feel fit. I feel ready and I think I've been playing pretty well so that makes it even worse. You just want to get out there and help the boys. But I think they've been doing pretty well without me."

Ifill may feel fit and ready to play, but he admits he would rather make his return from the bench than slot straight into the starting line-up.

"I feel good again. But like I've said before, you feel great in training most of the time. It's that extra 10-15 percent (needed in matches) that you can't replicate," he said.

"I've put my hand up to be involved but whether I'm from the bench or from the start that's down to Ricki (coach Ricki Herbert).

"I'd be happier off the bench to start with but I'm here and I'm training so it's down to him. It's his decision."

When Ifill made his first start after his first groin injury it was against Sydney at Westpac Stadium when the Phoenix produced some of their best football of the season to win 2-1.

Ifill got on the score-sheet after just seven minutes in that game and had several other chances before being substituted for Mirjan Pavlovic in the 60th minute.

"I think that's why the Gaffer (Herbert) wants to start me (on Wednesday) because I had a good game and he was pleased with me," said Ifill. "That's probably coming into his thinking."

"But I was probably a little bit further on then. The game before I'd played against Adelaide for half-an-hour. That's what I'm going to say to him and hopefully he goes for the bench really."

Herbert was giving little away except to say his star player would be involved.

"He's trained really well today and we'll see how he pulls up in the morning," he said.

"He will play some part. If he doesn't start he's probably a 30-35 minute proposition.

"If he starts he's probably (going to play) the first half. It's balancing it. He is important to us.

"You could run with the emotion of leaving him out there but we won't do that."