No guarantees for Durante

The old adage is that you shouldn't change a winning team and Ricki Herbert has given no assurances skipper Andrew Durante will return to the Wellington Phoenix starting line-up against North Queensland Fury next week.

The old adage is that you shouldn't change a winning team and Ricki Herbert has given no assurances skipper Andrew Durante will return to the Wellington Phoenix starting line-up against North Queensland Fury next week.

Durante was suspended for last weekend's match against the Newcastle Jets which saw the Phoenix produce one of their best performances of the season to claim a much-needed 4-0 win at Westpac Stadium.

While it would seem almost inconceivable not to recall a player who, prior to last week, had played every minute of the previous 50 Hyundai A-League games, Herbert was giving no guarantees his captain would be back in the heart of defence in Townsville on December 27 after Ben Sigmund and Jade North's impressive efforts.

"(He's not certain to start) at this stage," Herbert said. "We've got three really good centre halves. I think they are all of international standard. Two are internationals (Sigmund and North) and one probably should be (Durante)."

"It's a tough choice. With Jade going to be away (on Asian Cup duties with Australia in January) it's going to leave a bit of a void."

"Ben is on seven yellow cards so that area is a bit vulnerable at the moment so we'll see. Dura might play. We'll just keep him guessing for the next couple of days," Herbert added with a grin."

Wellington's win over the Jets was all the more pleasing for Herbert because it came after star striker Paul Ifill was forced from the field with a leg injury that will take anywhere from between four to eight weeks to heal depending on who you talk to.

Ifill has not broken any bones but has suffered a high ankle sprain and damaged the membrane in his left leg and expects to be out for the remainder of the regular season, although he is optimistic his time on the sidelines will be shorter.

He is now sporting a pink plaster cast, much to the amusement of his coach and team-mates.

"I had lunch with him yesterday and he's got a pink cast on," said Durante. "He went to the doctors yesterday and asked for a pink cast. I'm not sure why, but it could be his favourite colour!"

"He's in good spirits. He feels that potentially it may be four weeks he can be back but I think it's going to be about four to six weeks."

In Ifill's absence last Saturday Tim Brown, Marco Rojas, Chris Greenacre and Dylan Macallister all got on the scoresheet and from the stands Durante said it was clear the players felt the need to step up and fill the void left by the Phoenix playmaker.

"I think everyone just lifted another level and stood up and were counted," the Australian said. "I think that's fantastic. We said when we signed all these players that we had such a good squad and now it's coming to the fore."

"When players are out others step in and can do the job."

"It's a blow that we've lost Paul but Dylan was fantastic and Greenie was good and Marco has been a standout for us. It's all positive signs."