Wellington Phoenix coach Des Buckingham has confirmed the three players dropped last week for disciplinary reasons have apologised and are back on board for the club’s big final push to make the Hyundai A-League top six.
The Phoenix boss made a big statement last week by dropping Roly Bonevacia, Tom Doyle and Ryan Lowry for the clash with Brisbane Roar due to the trio “breaching team protocols”.
And the tough stance was justified when his side pulled off a shock 2-1 win in Brisbane to reignite the club’s finals hopes.
While he offered no guarantees the trio would come into the starting side - after the players who replaced them performed so well at Suncorp - Buckingham confirmed the trio are options to play against Perth Glory on Saturday.
“They’ve apologised to the playing group so they are back in for selection as well as everybody else,” the Phoenix boss told reporters on Tuesday.
“All three have applied themselves back to professional standards and have got on with the job they should be doing.
“They trained this morning, they trained well and we’re at the stage of the season where we’ve got six games left and we need to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
Despite a horror run of form before Saturday’s win, Phoenix is now just two points outside the top six heading into the last six rounds.
While they have a tricky run of games to come, nothing is impossible says the coach, if they take it one game at a time.
“We’ve got a hard run in, there’s teams around us that are playing each other but it’s in our hands,” Buckingham said.
“We’ve got teams around us, Western Sydney Wanderers, the Jets and teams above them, and we’re playing them all.
“If we take it game-by-game, starting with Perth this weekend, and if we can put in a performance like we did last weekend then we should get three points.”
Phoenix’s first step in their quest to make the finals is against the in-form Glory on Saturday night at QBE Stadium in Auckland.
“I don’t think we’ve ever lost in Auckland people tell me. If that continues on this weekend I’ll be very pleased,” Buckingham said.
He added on Glory: “They have hit a bit of form as they did last year. The back end of the season they always seem to finish strong.
“They’ve moved up to third with us beating Brisbane on the weekend.
“They’ll be a different test, they play a different way and have a different formation to Brisbane but we have a few days to prepare and make sure we’re ready to go.”
Playmaker Gui Finkler is set to return to the Phoenix squad after missing the last two matches to return to Brazil for the birth of his first child.
Italian defender Marco Rossi, who was forced off with a hamstring injury against Roar, is racing the clock to be fit against Glory.