Phoenix hope to shut down Fowler

The striker dubbed 'God' has been the centre of attention in the lead-up to Sunday's clash between Wellington Phoenix and the North Queensland Fury, but the hosts are hoping to ensure Robbie Fowler gets minimal opportunities to play the hero.

The striker dubbed 'God' has been the centre of attention in the lead-up to Sunday's clash between Wellington Phoenix and the North Queensland Fury, but the hosts are hoping to ensure Robbie Fowler gets minimal opportunities to play the hero.

Former Liverpool and England legend Fowler makes his first appearance in New Zealand at Westpac Stadium on Sunday when he leads the Fury against the Phoenix in a Hyundai A-League round seven clash that will be a mouth-watering one for fans.

Fowler, one of football's greatest ever strikers, has been in superb form for the Fury, having nailed four goals - including last weekend's divine winner against Sydney FC.

The Phoenix, meanwhile, have their own in-form English strike force in Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre and a special record they want to maintain - an unbeaten run of eight games at Westpac Stadium stretching back to October last year.

Phoenix assistant coach Jonathan Gould who, along with Ifill, has played against Fowler in the past, said the key to limiting the impact of the 34-year-old star striker would be to deny him possession.

"It's the same approach you take with any striker, if you starve them of supply they're not going to get opportunities," he said.

"The difference with Robbie is that he can create something out of nothing. You only have to look at the last two goals he scored - it was a deft touch against the Roar and then he hit one from 30 yards against Sydney."

The other threat would come from putting too much emphasis on shutting down Fowler and ignoring the danger posed by the Fury's other key men.

"How far the Fury have come in the past four or five weeks is a real credit to their coach, Ian Ferguson," said Gould.

"They work incredibly hard and they've got players all over the pitch who have got something to prove."

The Phoenix will be without Jon McKain on Sunday, the classy defender suffering a quadriceps tear late in the 1-1 draw away to Melbourne Victory. However, New Zealand international centre back Ben Sigmund returns to the squad after recovering from a hip knock picked up during New Zealand's international friendly win against Jordan before the Victory match.

It was a dominant performance by the Phoenix at Etihad Stadium, the visitors unlucky not to have taken all three points from the match.

For the record, former Coventry goalkeeper Gould played against Liverpool's Fowler in the English Premier League. He was also between the sticks for Celtic in UEFA and Champions League matches against Fowler's Reds.

"And Robbie never scored past me," Gould said.

"He's one of the few that haven't!"

Ifill's previous clashes against Fowler were with Sheffield United (v Liverpool) and Crystal Palace (v Cardiff in the Championship).