Pavlovic buoyed by return

Mirjan Pavlovic made a welcome return to action for Wellington Phoenix against Sydney FC but knows he has plenty of hard work ahead of him before he can hope to unseat incumbents Chris Greenacre or Paul Ifill from the starting line-up.

Mirjan Pavlovic made a welcome return to action for Wellington Phoenix against Sydney FC but knows he has plenty of hard work ahead of him before he can hope to unseat incumbents Chris Greenacre or Paul Ifill from the starting line-up.

The 22-year-old striker got 30 minutes off the bench in the 2-1 win in Wellington, his first taste of competitive football after breaking his arm a week before the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 season began.

"I played half-an-hour and it felt like it was three hours," Pavlovic joked.

"It was definitely tough. It's tough because we haven't got a reserve side which would have allowed me to get a couple of 90 minutes under my belt."

"But hopefully I can get a few more minutes on the park (against Melbourne Heart)."

Coach Ricki Herbert has been impressed by the work the young Australian has put in during his injury-enforced lay-off but is likely to stick with the same starting XI as last weekend despite 33-year-old Greenacre's heavy workload in the first few rounds.

"We just keep Chris as fresh as we can. He's had a couple of easy days this week. But he's pretty lively and he's doing a good job for us," Herbert said of his assistant coach-cum-striker.

"Pav has come back and he needs some game time too. He was pretty eager to get on (last week) but he is well short of a gallop."

"Hopefully we get a bit more time for him this weekend. No doubt he will play some part of the game."

Pavlovic himself acknowledges sticking with the status quo up front is probably for the better.

"What we've got up front at the moment are doing very well. Greenie and Ifill are two very professional and elite players," he said.

"But there's plenty of time and when I get my chance hopefully I can take it."

Pavlovic returned to the Phoenix this season with a fresh attitude after failing to really deliver on his potential last season.

He made one start in 10 games and was desperate to prove to Herbert this year that he was worth the contract he has signed through to March 2013.

Greenacre and Ifill have both had a hand in the young Australian's change in attitude.

"The main thing I've learned from them is the professionalism. They are just so professional," Pavlovic said.

"As young players sometimes you lose your head and think that you've made it. With them they are just professionals and every night and every day it's routine for them and I've learned a lot off them on and off the park really."

"Every young player has got to prove himself. Especially here, we do get our chance. You sort of know that you're not going to start straight away but when you get your chance you've got to prove yourself and hopefully the coach puts you in."

"I just want to help the team and contribute as much as I can."