Thwaite wants Phoenix scalp

Gold Coast United defender Michael Thwaite believes a good showing at home against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night will help in building a massive crowd for Sunday week's free admission match at Skilled Park.

Gold Coast United defender Michael Thwaite believes a good showing at home against the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night will help in building a massive crowd for Sunday week's free admission match at Skilled Park.

United owner Clive Palmer announced on Thursday that for the visit of the Central Coast Mariners on 19 December, the club will throw open the gates and offer free entry to all supporters in a move aimed to give thanks to Frank Lowy and the FFA for their efforts in the failed 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, and to gauge any real interest in football on the Gold Coast.

The prospect of a big crowd at Skilled Park has added an extra spring in the step of Miron Bleiberg's men, according to Thwaite, and combined with United's good record against the Phoenix, the Socceroo believes his side should secure the three points to kick off a blockbuster Christmas period for the club.

"We've had some good results against Wellington but on top of that we have a lot of motivation going into this one with the news of next week's game and what Clive's doing," Thwaite said.

"I think the fans just need to see the quality of football that is on offer - we have Wellington at home this weekend, followed by an away game in Newcastle on Wednesday, then the big, free game against the Mariners on Sunday the 19th."

"After that there-s the Boxing Day match in Brisbane - all of those should be excellent games."

"It's what Christmas is all about and you can call him Santa Claus at the moment, it's a great time of the year and Clive is spreading a lot of joy. It's very tough financially for families around this time so I think it's a great initiative."

Saturday night marks Thwaite's return to the Gold Coast eleven after missing three weeks with an ankle injury and the defensive lynchpin missed a rollercoaster period of two wins and two losses - but United seem to have settled since Sunday's clinical 3-0 win over Melbourne Heart and Thwaite is keen as ever to return to the centre of defence and continue in the same way against the Phoenix.

"I missed four games and that hurt me a lot so I'm very keen to get back out against Wellington," he said.

"We had a couple of losses (while I was gone) but with the win against Melbourne Heart we're back on the right track," he said.

"The boys in defence have done well with the rotation and we're getting the entire squad back to full fitness now which is the most important thing."