Phoenix to run rule over fringe players

26 February 2018 09:29:17 EST

Coach Darije Kalezic is prepared to gamble on his selections for Wellington Phoenix's final six games of the season, but history suggests his position is not secure.

Kalezic's side went down 1-0 in Gosford to Danny De Silva's goal, keeping them bottom of the A-League table but more significantly dropping them three points behind the ninth-placed Mariners.

The Phoenix coach, who had seen his side beat Perth in their previous game to move level on points with Central Coast, says his selections from now on will be based on giving fringe players a chance.

He has an eye on next season, and who should be retained from the squad, but that may not wind up being his decision if Wellington pick up the wooden spoon.

Kalezic said after the Mariners defeat: "We already decide to give the players who did not get a lot of chances this season to play a lot of minutes so that we can see how good they are in terms of the future of Wellington Phoenix.

"It will be a combination of that and hopefully we are going to perform well and come off the bottom of the table."

But only one manager in the history of the A-League has ever survived overseeing a last-placed finish when coaching for the full season - that was Ricki Herbert, who was reprieved after the Phoenix picked up the wooden spoon in the club's maiden campaign of 2007-08.

Wellington have an extra week to contemplate their defeat to the Mariners and their strategy for pulling away from the bottom of the table, as they don't play their next game against Western Sydney Wanderers until 10th March.

Kalezic said: "We can take many things from the second half [of the Mariners game] to the next week, but we are disappointed that we get again a great chance to come off the bottom and we have to talk about why we missed that chance."

The club need eight points from their final six games to ensure they don't set a new record low number of points which stands at 25 from the 2015-16 season.

Wellington are 1/14 to finish bottom of the league. Meanwhile, Central Coast are 250/1 to finish in the top six.

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