Wellington Phoenix head coach Mark Rudan insists that he has both quality and depth at his disposal ahead of his Hyundai A-League managerial bow.
Having finished the previous campaign second from bottom with just five wins, modest expectations surround the New Zealand outfit ahead of Sunday’s season opener against Newcastle Jets.
However, Rudan believes he possesses a squad capable of upsetting the odds when they take on last season's losing Grand Finalists.
He said: “We’re ready. We’ve got a clean bill of health, all the players are fit and firing, they’re in a really good space as well, all the talking is done and it is about the actions now.
“In terms of what I wanted from the players in pre-season, from the whole club, we’re certainly on the right path, that’s for sure.
“This is an exciting time, not just for myself personally because it’s my first competitive game in the A-League as a coach, but for the players and hopefully the fans as well.
“There’s always going to be headaches because you’ve got everyone available and everyone’s putting their hands up.
“I could say that in all areas there a lot of players are putting their hand up. In the middle of the park, in those wide areas as well and up front there’s competition for places.
“There’s been talk that we haven’t got much there, but when you look at our bench tomorrow [Sunday] you’ll see that we’ve got some depth there and quality as well.”
Long-standing club captain Andrew Durante echoed his manager’s defiance, insisting that competition for places is fierce at the Westpac Stadium.
“I think what he has created is a really strong squad,” he said. “I actually read a comment that it is one of our weaker squads, but it is actually an extremely strong squad.
"There’s competition for places, it doesn’t matter who you are if you don’t perform. If I don’t play well or Roy [Krishna] or someone doesn’t play well then there’s somebody ready to step in.
“He [Rudan] is not afraid to make changes, he’s done it throughout pre-season, so it keeps everyone on their toes, it keeps really good competition and I think that’s healthy.
“Internally we’ve got high targets. We’ve set ourselves some goals that we want to achieve. We believe we can do something special this year and we don’t really focus on how other people judge us.”