Tough times for Burns at Phoenix

13 March 2018 03:11:03 EST

Striker Nathan Burns admits it's a reversal of fortunes for him in his second stint with Wellington Phoenix.

The Australia international is without a goal in his 10 appearances since he returned to Wellington in late December from Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

And having spent almost all his career with teams at the right end of a league table, he's now been pitched into a battle against the A-League wooden spoon.

The Phoenix have been bottom of the league for almost the whole season and have only won four of their 22 games.

That's a contrast to Burns' previous experience in Wellington, when he won the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League's player of the year in 2014-15.

He became at that time the fastest player to reach the 10-goal mark in a season, finishing with 13 in total and helping his side into the Finals Series.

The 29-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix after leaving Hiroshima, where he didn't make a league appearance during his six-month stay.

"It's been a different year and a half for me, but I've learnt a lot," he said. "I'm adapting to this situation as well; you've got to work harder for the team, rather than individually."

Former Phoenix coach Darije Kalezic, who left the club last week, had Burns doing a lot of tracking back and receiving the ball deeper, but that's not the kind of role that really suited him.

Interim coach Chris Greenacre restored him to a more natural position in last weekend's 4-1 defeat to Western Sydney, deploying him as one of two strikers along with Roy Krishna.

"I had a few shots, Roy had a few, and in games previous to that I wasn't getting close to the goal being so deep defending," said Burns. "I felt very comfortable, it's just a matter of getting used to that intensity."

Burns will take on one of his former clubs Newcastle Jets on Saturday when Ernie Merrick's side travel to QBE Stadium in Auckland.

The Phoenix are 11/4 to beat Newcastle Jets, who are 19/20, with the draw 11/4.

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