Phoenix plan to starve Roar

Vince Lia believes the key to defeating Brisbane Roar will be to stop them getting into their groove when they come to Wellington this weekend.

Vince Lia believes the key to defeating Brisbane Roar will be to stop them getting into their groove when they come to Wellington this weekend.

The defending Hyundai A-League champions are well known for their short passing game that starves the opposition of the ball.

They certainly found their rhythm against Melbourne Victory last weekend but also showed they were not afraid to go to the long ball either and it paid dividends as they trounced former coach Ange Postecoglou's new team 5-0.

"It doesn't look like they've lost much since Ange left," Lia said. "They are a little bit different than last year.

"They are a bit more direct at times, which will make it a little bit harder to play against. They are still the team to beat and coming off a 5-0 win they are going to be pretty confident."

Last season the Phoenix were guilty of standing off and letting the Roar players dictate the game too much. While it did not cost them in a 1-1 draw in Brisbane and a 2-0 win in Dunedin it did in the final match at Westpac Stadium, which Wellington lost 2-0.

"Away we have to be a little bit smarter with what we do with going out after teams," Lia said.

"But last year in that game at home where we didn't really go at them when we should have and it took us to go a goal down to really get after them. I don't think we'd do that again.

"At home we pride ourselves on being pretty hard to beat and pretty attacking. Not many teams come here and get three points.

"We don't want to let them get into their groove. We want to get after them early doors and hopefully put them on the back foot."

The Phoenix welcome back their seven international players and coach Ricki Herbert for the round three match.

Their absence, plus the withdrawal of Cameron Lindsay through illness for the 1-1 draw with Melbourne Heart, meant Lia, who had only 45 minutes of pre-season football under his belt due to a knee injury, had to play at right-back in an unfamiliar back four for the full 90 minutes at AAMI Park.

"It was hard work. The first half was pretty tough," Lia admitted.

"I got saved a little bit with the red card because they took the guy (Josip Tadic) that was on me off which was good.

"The second half I lasted till probably about 75 minutes but then I started to get really tired. To get through 90 minutes is always good. The result was pretty decent considering."

Lia reckons he is about 75 per cent match fit but in terms of general fitness is rating as well as his team-mates in testing.

The 27-year-old is keen to start again against Brisbane but Herbert has hinted that his starting line-up would look much the same as it did in the opening round against Sydney now his All Whites are available.

Lia missed the win against Sydney as Herbert felt he needed the extra week of training to prepare for the trip to Melbourne.

"I've put my hand up for selection. I'm back training now. Obviously I'm still a little bit underdone but the more I play the better I'm going to feel," said Lia, who admits his preferred position is in midfield.

"It's Ricki's call now. I'm available again and whatever he decides to do I just have to deal with it I guess."