Sanchez growing in confidence

Two weeks after returning from knee surgery Wellington Phoenix midfielder Dani Sanchez is starting to feel he is nearing his best.

Two weeks after returning from knee surgery Wellington Phoenix midfielder Dani Sanchez is starting to feel he is nearing his best.

That is timely for the Phoenix as they attempt to enhance their playoff chances and was evident in Sanchez's late goal to achieve the draw against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Up against the Melbourne Heart in Wellington on Thursday, the Phoenix need to pick up three points against a side they played without eight key players in the first round of the season.

"I'm feeling much better. Every day I am feeling stronger and better," Sanchez said after the team's final training run ahead of the Thursday contest.

"It wasn't quite so free to start with but from game to game I am getting stronger and my fitness is much better.

"It was frustrating not being able to help the team but I tried to rest and then when I started to come back I worked really hard."

It was only the second significant injury in his lengthy career, the previous occasion being a broken hand which kept him out of action for a similar period of time to that suffered with the Phoenix.

But his return has coincided with improved performances from the side, including a 1-1 draw against league leaders Central Coast in their last match.

"We played really well but got only one point. But we gave it a good shot. While it was a little disappointing we were happy to play better," he said.

As important as Thursday's game is for the Phoenix, Sanchez insisted it would be no more significant than any other match throughout the season.

"We have to be strong and have to make it difficult for all teams coming to Wellington," he said.

Consistency of performance was what the Phoenix needed.

While 'consistency' was something that all teams sought in a positive sense, it was a quality that was invaluable in the A-League because every year the league was more competitive with each side knowing that it was capable of beating the others.

"In other countries everyone targeted a top six playoffs place, but in the A-League everyone is trying to win the championship because they know there is not much between the teams," he said.

For that reason it was vital to achieve a degree of winning consistency, especially at home, he said.

And Sanchez, in his second season with the club, was feeling more at home in New Zealand's capital city.

"I have enjoyed it from my first day here but now I am enjoying it even more now the weather is nice. I get on well with everyone and they help me a lot and I am doing my best for them," he said.

Sanchez has been impressed with the quality of younger players being developed by the club and Tyler Boyd and Louis Fenton were typical of the good players coming through.

What was needed to aid the cause of the good younger players was more top-level play.

"I think they need more competitive games to make them better players and hopefully they can get that soon," he said.