ALM Sydney face season-defining month

The next month shapes as critical for Sydney FC boss Steve Corica as he seeks to turn around his side's stuttering A-League Men campaign.

After Saturday's controversial 1-0 loss to nine-man Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium, the Sky Blues' have won just one of six games at their newly rebuilt home ground.

Fans are beginning to ask questions about Corica's future after he was given the chance to reshape his squad and their style of play having missed the finals last year for the first time since 2016.

Sydney say they are sticking by Corica, who has won two ALM championships and one premiership with the Sky Blues, after giving him a two-year contract extension over the off-season.

But their position could well shift in the wake of unfavourable results against the competition's bottom three sides - Perth Glory, Western United and Melbourne Victory - before the end of January.

"It's not going to be easy (because) those are three tough games," Corica said after the Wellington loss, during which Adam Le Fondre missed two stoppage-time penalties and Rhyan Grant had an effort ruled out for offside.

"We've been performing better away than at home (and) we need to win next week, it's as simple as that."

English import Joe Lolley will return from a two-game suspension against Perth on Saturday and he, along with fellow winger Robert Mak, has hit the ground running since Corica opted to switch to a more-attacking 4-3-3 formation.

Sydney sit eighth and are the only side to have beaten runaway league leaders Melbourne City, but it is at the other end that the Sky Blues are encountering issues.

Eleven games into the competition, Corica's men have conceded the most goals (19) at this stage of the season since the 2012/13 campaign (25).

They have been without captain Alex Wilkinson since round one and England international Jack Rodwell is only just back from a groin issue.

Sydney managed to pick up their first clean sheet in a 2-0 win over the Newcastle Jets to start the new year.

They only conceded against Wellington when they were down to 10 men, with Corica hopeful his experienced defensive duo returning to fitness can improve the team's fortunes.

"Jack showed defensively he's a very good player, who's comfortable on the ball," Corica said.

"He's a big boy who dominates the defence and he's going to improve (because) that was his first 90 minutes in a long time, and maybe Wilko (Wilkinson) will be back in the next two to three weeks."