Phoenix unsure on starting line-up

Wellington Phoenix won't settle on their starting line-up to face Melbourne Heart until they get to the Victorian capital.

Wellington Phoenix won't settle on their starting line-up to face Melbourne Heart until they get to the Victorian capital.

Missing six New Zealand internationals and Solomon Islands forward Benjamin Totori, plus Phoenix and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert, who are all on World Cup qualifying duty, means the side that takes to the field at AAMI Park will look vastly different to the one that accounted for Sydney 2-0 in the opening round.

The defence has been particularly hard hit with goalkeepers Mark Paston and Glen Moss and Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund and Tony Lochhead all absent for Sunday's game.

In goal, assistant coaches Chris Greenacre and Jonathan Gould must choose between academy player Scott Basalaj or Jacob Spoonley, who has been brought in from Auckland City for the match.

Illness has added further complications to the selection decision.

"Scott has been laid down with a bug which he probably got in India," said Gould, the club's goalkeeping coach. "He lost six kilos in the last three weeks.

"Jacob has only just come into the group over the last few days so we want to give him some time to settle in.

"It's better to wait until probably 24-48 hours before the game really."

Gould revealed teenager Basalaj, who is also studying for his school exams, had been struggling with his recovery between drills at training but if that improved in the next couple of days he was likely to start.

"If he's physically right then he'll probably play. If he's not then Jacob is a more than adequate back-up given his experience in the (New Zealand) under-23s in Beijing (at the 2008 Olympics)," he said.

"They are two very, very good technical goalkeepers. When goalkeepers are technically good that's where the confidence comes in them as a coach really. I've got no doubts about either of them really."

The back four will have a new look to it, with skipper Andrew Durante the only familiar face.

Academy player Luke Rowe looks set to start at left-back with Michael Boxall to partner Durante in central defence and Cameron Lindsay a 'good possibility' of starting at right-back.

The only other option at right-back would be Manny Muscat but it would be a big call to move him from the defensive midfield role he excelled in against Sydney - and Alessandro Del Piero - last weekend.

Paul Ifill, who came off the bench last week on his comeback from knee and ankle injuries, is the logical replacement for All White Jeremy Brockie up front, while the return of experienced midfielder Vince Lia from his knee injury is also a welcome boost, although he may not start.

"Vinnie has been a big player for us over the past few years," Greenacre said.

"We're all delighted to get him back. Just to see him finish a session is great news for us.

"He'll be travelling and hopefully he can get some game time and he plays a big part for us."