Outlook bleak for Ifill

Paul Ifill is not holding out much hope of getting back in a Wellington Phoenix shirt this season.

Paul Ifill is not holding out much hope of getting back in a Wellington Phoenix shirt this season.

The Englishman was a spectator at Phoenix training on Wednesday and although there was early optimism the star striker could be back from his leg and ankle injury should Wellington make the play-offs that now seems unlikely.

"I can't see it to be honest," the 31-year-old said.

"It's looking more like next season. We're on schedule. We thought it would be 8-10 weeks and it's still looking like that.

"If the boys did make the play-offs it would give me something to aim at, put it that way. But at the moment it's looking very far away."

Ifill admitted it had been a frustrating time since spraining his ankle and tearing the membrane between his tibia and fibula in his left leg in the 4-0 win against Newcastle Jets in mid-December.

He was in a cast for 10 days to start with and is now in a moon boot and has been working hard on his rehabilitation that includes aqua jogging "which is unbelievably boring".

"It (the leg) feels pretty good and you just want to get going," Ifill said. "But the specialist tells you otherwise so you have to be careful because I don't want to redo it or get too far ahead of myself and hurt myself again."

Not renowned as one of the star trainers in the Phoenix squad, Ifill even joked that he was envious of the joggers that flock to the Wellington waterfront on a daily basis.

"You take things for granted. A run is the last thing on your mind normally. But we're getting there. It's a slow process but it's nice to come back and see the boys and get involved in a bit of the banter again."

His recovery has been helped by the Phoenix's late season surge of good form which he hopes can carry them to a second successive appearance in the play-offs.

Since Ifill was carried off in the 4-0 rout of the Jets, Wellington have earned a valuable point away from home against North Queensland Fury, defeated Melbourne Victory and were unlucky not to take anything away from the match against Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.

"There are definitely positive signs," the striker said. "Everybody knows we're going to be strong at home. I think we're going to need to win all the home games and pick up a point or two away - that's where it's going to be tough."

The task had been made just that bit harder with confirmation of a midweek trip to the Gold Coast on January 26 for the match against the Brisbane Roar which was postponed at the weekend because of the devastating floods which hit the Queensland capital and beyond.

It means the Phoenix will play Perth Glory (Wellington), Roar (Robina) and Jets (Wellington) in a period of eight days starting with Sunday's fixture at Westpac Stadium before embarking on another trio of games - against Adelaide (away), Sydney (away) and Fury (home) - in a nine-day stretch from February 5 to round out the season.