Smeltz: Coaches push Phoenix

11 January 2017 05:41:33 EST

Wellington Phoenix's new coaches are taking the club forward, according to veteran striker Shane Smeltz.

The big test will come for Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre when the Phoenix face three games in the space of eight days, including taking on premiership challengers Melbourne Victory.

They're pushing the boundaries of what we can do.

Shane Smeltz

But Smeltz has been impressed by the way the duo have gone about their business following the resignation of Ernie Merrick as coach last month. Place in charge initially on an interim basis, Buckingham and Greenacre won their first game 3-0 against Central Coast.

The Phoenix drew their next three matches before the pair - subsequently confirmed in their roles until the end of the season - suffered their first defeat in last week's trip to Perth Glory.

That 2-1 loss was Smeltz's first game back with the club since he left in 2009 and he said the team were in good shape ahead of their run of three successive home games against the Mariners, Victory and Brisbane.

Speaking of the impact the coaches have made, he added: "Every day they're enthusiastic, they're pushing the boundaries of what we can do.

"I think as players, we know we have to raise in every aspect for this game."

Wellington are four points off the top six, but have a game in hand - though that match is against a Victory side who have picked up nine wins to their three.

Smeltz says the Phoenix need to improve, but have enough talent in depth in the squad to be able to cope with a busy schedule.

"Normally there's rotations when you've got three games in a week anyway," he added. "I don't think it's going to be much of a problem."

The Phoenix are 8/13 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 17/4, with the draw 16/5.

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