Phoenix wary of Carle

Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante will be keeping more than a friendly eye on good mate Nicky Carle this weekend.

Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante will be keeping more than a friendly eye on good mate Nicky Carle this weekend.

Carle has been in great form for Sydney FC so far this Hyundai A-League season notching four goals to help his side to third on the ladder behind Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners.

The Sky Blues head to Wellington for their Week 8 clash at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, and Durante admits closing down Carle will be vital if the Phoenix are to return to winning ways.

"The way he has been playing the last four or five weeks has been outstanding," said the central defender.

"There is talk of a Socceroos call-up for him again which would be fantastic because he deserves it."

"I'm really good friends with Nicky so I know how hard he's worked. He is definitely one we'll have to watch."

Sydney will be smarting following last weekend's loss to bitter rivals Central Coast which resulted in accusations of diving levelled against midfielder Brett Emerton.

Sydney FC chief executive Dirk Melton has staunchly defended his marquee player and Durante has also given his backing to the 32-year-old former English Premier League player.

"I actually didn't see (the incident). But I read something about that in the paper. I wouldn't say he's a diver. He's a very good player but I wouldn't say he's a diver," the Phoenix skipper added.

"He's a quality player who has come back from Europe to play here."

After an injury-hit start to the season Wellington should be boosted by the return of Paul Ifill to the starting line-up for Sunday's match following his return to action in the second half against Adelaide at Eden Park last weekend.

Vince Lia, who returned from a knee injury last weekend as well, is also expected to back-up after getting through virtually the full match in Auckland.

"It's very good to have them back," admitted Durante.

"Vinnie got through about 85 minutes on the weekend which was excellent for him and the team."

"Ifill coming on for the last 30 minutes was great. You saw what he adds to the team when he comes on. It's good to have them back."

After a run of five games without a win - and losses to Melbourne Victory and the Mariners already this season at Westpac Stadium - Durante is keen to re-establish their home venue as one to be feared for visiting teams.

"We really rely on our home points. It was tough to take but hopefully we can make it right this week against Sydney and get ourselves right up the good end of the ladder," he said.

"But Sydney seem to be playing really well at the moment so it's not going to be easy."

"They will be hurting from their loss last week against Central Coast. They are going to come here and come at us from the beginning. It's going to be tough. But we've got our players back and we're ready to go."