ALM Phoenix braced for Mariners challenge

Wellington coach Ufuk Talay says it's time his side start making their home advantage count as the Phoenix prepare to welcome the Central Coast Mariners to New Zealand's capital.

Wellington have just two wins from six home games at Sky Stadium to start the A-League Men season and will be hoping they can make that three when they face the second-placed Mariners on Sunday.

The Phoenix have registered two consecutive 1-0 wins on the road to claim back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.

With such a congested table Talay said his side, who began the round in fourth spot, can ill-afford to let the advantage of playing games in New Zealand go to waste.

"I always try to take the expectation off the players so they can just focus on their performance and what they need to do when they go out on the park," he said.

"Even though we're sitting fourth, the team that's coming last is only six points behind us.

"We haven't picked up as many points as we would have liked playing at home so for us it's a very important game to stay where we are.

"They (the Mariners) love to play attacking football, so it's very important that if we can't score that we stay in the game and don't concede."

The only absence for Talay's side is defender Scott Wotton, with Bozhidar Kraev and Nicholas Pennington both returning from suspension.

Meanwhile, Central Coast boss Nick Montgomery has indicated he will consider throwing midweek signing Christian Theoharous straight into the action on Sunday.

Theoharous joined the Mariners from Western United on a six-month deal with the chance to turn his move into a longer stay.

"We lost Garang Kuol a couple of weeks back and Christian is an attacking player I've admired for a long time," Montgomery said.

"He fits the group perfectly, he's 23-years-old and he's a massive talent.

"I truly believe if we can unlock his potential we might have another future Socceroo on our hands.

"He's fit and he's available come this weekend."