Phoenix lose key men

Wellington Phoenix will be without two key players for crucial away matches against Adelaide United and Sydney FC after Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat both picked up their eighth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday.

Wellington Phoenix will be without two key players for crucial away matches against Adelaide United and Sydney FC after Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat both picked up their eighth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday.

While the win, courtesy of a 20th minute goal by Dylan Macallister, lifted the Phoenix to sixth on the ladder, it came at a cost as Sigmund and Muscat were ruled out until the final match of the regular season against North Queensland Fury on February 13.

The return of Qantas Socceroo Jade North will ease the loss of centre-back Sigmund, but replacing the consistent Muscat, who has been a big reason for the Phoenix's rejuvenated form in the past month, will be more of a challenge for coach Ricki Herbert with the race to the play-offs set to go down to the wire.

"We'll just roll with it," said Herbert. "We're not going to make any excuses. At the end of the day if we get in the six we get in the six."

"There are three points available in Adelaide and three points in Sydney. If we have to come home and win the game so be it. If we can (qualify) before then that would be better still."

In all, five Phoenix players (Sigmund, Muscat, Andrew Durante, Vince Lia, Troy Hearfield) were shown yellow cards by referee Chris Beath, while the Jets had Ryan Griffiths sent off for dissent and Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Adam D'Apuzzo booked.

Durante's yellow card inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half lifted his tally for the season to seven and he admitted with so many important games coming up discipline was going to be crucial.

"We've got to be careful. We've lost Manny and Siggy now. It's an important part of the year so we've got to be careful," he stressed.

"It was a little bit inconsistent tonight. There were some fouls from behind that weren't given yellows and some that were, but that's the same old story every week," he added.

The match certainly wasn't a free-flowing spectacle, which was not unsurprising given what was at stake.

But it also looked like the midweek trip to the Gold Coast to play their rearranged fixture against Brisbane Roar following last Sunday's 4-0 win over Perth Glory had taken its toll.

"I think it showed in our performance today. We were sloppy at times. We weren't the usual Phoenix that we are at home but we still managed to get the result," said Durante.

"That speaks volumes about the players, the character of the side. No one wants to let anyone down in the team. It probably wasn't our best performance but we needed three points and that's the most important thing at this stage in the year."

Despite the Phoenix's poor away record - they have managed just one win in Australia this season - Durante said the squad were 'quietly confident' about reaching the play-offs.

"It doesn't get any easier but hopefully we can get some results on the road then finish off against North Queensland. We really need those three points."

"We've done really well over the last two months and we've gone from strength to strength. No matter what's thrown at us we seem to step up and deliver."