Ifill may face Sydney

Playmaker Paul Ifill is in the running to make a long-awaited return to the Wellington Phoenix starting line-up for Sunday's match against Sydney FC, according to coach Ricki Herbert.

Playmaker Paul Ifill is in the running to make a long-awaited return to the Wellington Phoenix starting line-up for Sunday's match against Sydney FC, according to coach Ricki Herbert.

Ifill came back from a groin injury off the bench against Adelaide United last weekend and it was his cross that resulted in Nigel Boogaard scoring the own-goal which gave the Phoenix a point from the match at Eden Park in Auckland.

"Paul looks lively again. He's trained every session we've put on and he looks good. He's a chance to start," said Herbert.

Ifill played just over 30 minutes against Adelaide and Herbert was not expecting the 32-year-old to last the full 90 minutes against Sydney either.

"It's just the fatigue factor. We're just not sure what that benchmark will be at the moment," Herbert said.

"But you see when Paul comes on he's different than what we've got in the team and we've missed that. It will be good to have him back."

Given striker Mirjan Pavlovic is now back in full training after breaking his arm in pre-season and is in line for a place on the bench, Herbert has a ready-made front-man waiting in the wings to step in for Ifill with Dani Sanchez (hip) doubtful for the match at Westpac Stadium.

"Pav has been good. He's worked hard," said Herbert. "(Strength and conditioning coach) Lee (Taylor) and (physio) Wayne (Roberts) have done a great job with him away from the pitch. He's as good as what we can get him."

"Now it's just about getting out there (on the pitch) and making decisions."

"Because it was a break it was probably a little bit more troublesome for him to come back sooner. But Pav looks lively and he's hungry."

Herbert added: "That young hungriness coming off the bench (is good). He has got a bit more pace too and can relieve Chris (Greenacre) a little bit."

"It's been tough for him. He's had no strikers in and around him on the team. We might just play him off Ifill at the weekend and free him up a little bit."

Sunday's game will be the first one at Westpac Stadium since Wellington's 2-1 loss to the Central Coast Mariners on November 4.

The stadium in Wellington has been a fortress for the ninth-placed Phoenix in recent campaigns and Herbert wants to see a return to winning ways there after a run of five games without a victory this season.

"We've always been tough to beat at home and we've got to get back to that hard-nut approach and winning games there," Herbert declared.

"I don't know what the stats are but I suppose 80 per cent of teams win at home. You've got to to be in the mix."

"If we can just keep playing well, and we have played well for a number of games this year without getting a lot from them, if we put in a decent performance we'll get something from it."

"If we don't then, like you see with every other team in the league, you get nothing."