Smeltz set for raucous reunion

The Wellington Phoenix are predicting a noisy reception for former striker Shane Smeltz when Gold Coast United takes to the field at Westpac Stadium this Sunday.

The Wellington Phoenix are predicting a noisy reception for former striker Shane Smeltz when Gold Coast United takes to the field at Westpac Stadium this Sunday.

It will be Smeltz's first appearance in the New Zealand capital since he left to join the new A-League team for the start of the current campaign.

Smeltz was a fan favourite during his time at the Phoenix due to his prowess in front of goal which earned him the golden boot award as leading goal-scorer (12) last season as well as the Johnny Warren Medal.

"In a quiet way Shane is probably looking forward to coming back," said Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert following Wellington's Wednesday training session.

"When you are chanted against it's probably recognition that you did quite well at the club."

"He did well for us but he's on the other side of the fence now and he'll cop what he's going to cop."

"He'll probably get a few boos I would suggest, quite a few."

Smeltz's All Whites team-mate and good friend Tim Brown is keen to ensure the Gold Coast striker does not get the chance to wind up the crowd even more by adding to his season tally of 10 goals.

"We will obviously be keeping a close eye on him and hopefully we'll be able to shut him down like we did last time we played them on the Gold Coast," Brown said.

"He can be quiet for 89 minutes and score in the 90th. He's a very, very good player and we are going to have to watch him closely."

"He's scoring goals for fun at the moment but hopefully he won't do it at the weekend."

Brown on the other hand would love nothing more than to add to his two-goal tally and help the Phoenix end their record run of six consecutive draws.

His header past Paul Henderson in the 1-1 draw against the Fury at the weekend ended a goalless drought for the Phoenix that had spanned 270 minutes.

It is that attacking intent Herbert would like to see more of from Brown and fellow midfielder Vince Lia.

"None of them have a licence to defend only. We've talked about that, about what they are capable of doing going forward," Herbert said.

"Some of the runs could be a bit more aggressive getting into the box. Browny was a good example of that with the goal (last weekend)."

"They are both capable of scoring. They have always been given license to do that. I think they can do a little bit more. Hopefully we'll get that at the weekend."

Daniel is in doubt for Sunday's match after hyper-extending his knee but Herbert hinted that Chinese under-23 striker Jiang Chen, nicknamed 'Johnny' by his team-mates, could work in partnership with Chris Greenacre up front with Paul Ifill and Leo Bertos attacking out wide in a 4-4-2 formation.

"We brought Johnny Chen on in Townsville and we've just been working with him today in a front position," Herbert said.

"Paul can play wide. We've got Leo wide so we've got some options there."

"You'll see a bit of Chen and probably a little bit more of Costa (Barbarouses) and I think even Marco (Rojas) comes into play."

"They are players who are difficult for defenders to capture. It's that six-yard box and putting the ball in the back of the net that is crucial at the moment."