Phoenix dealt a blow

Wellington Phoenix have been dealt a massive blow ahead of Saturday night's match against Perth Glory, with news that Brazilian guest player Fred is unable to play.

Wellington Phoenix have been dealt a massive blow ahead of Saturday night's match against Perth Glory, with news that Brazilian guest player Fred is unable to play.

Fred has returned home to Brazil to be with his friends and family after his father died suddenly on Tuesday night.

"Our deepest condolences and sympathies go to Fred and his family and their well-being is the club's paramount concern," Wellington chief executive Tony Pignata said.

"Being so far away from his family in Brazil at this difficult time is obviously very distressing for Fred and we have worked hard to get him, his wife and daughter on a plane home immediately."

It is unclear whether Fred will honour the remainder of his six-week stint, which still has another two matches after this week.

"The most important thing for us now is to help Fred in any way we can," Pignata said.

"It's far too early to say what will happen with the remainder of Fred's contract but needless to say we will leave that decision to him and respect his wishes if he decides to stay in Brazil to be with his family."

With Fred on board, Wellington has won two of its past three matches and moved into contention for a top-four spot.

Phoenix players will wear black armbands in the match as a tribute to the star midfielder.

Meanwhile, Wellington has signed veteran goalkeeper Scott Higgins as a short-term injury replacement for the Mark Paston.

Paston hurt his ribs in Wellington's clash against Adelaide last weekend and is expected to be out of action for a month.

Pignata believes Higgins will act as a more than capable back-up to No.1 keeper Glen Moss.

"We actually had a number of goalkeepers who contacted us after learning about the status of Mark and his injury but we settled on Scott," Pignata said.

"He's a proven performer, he's played with several players already in our squad and he was thrilled to come here."