Phoenix confident of covering Ball loss

Daniel Gilhooly
Wellington will be without forward David Ball for this week's A-League clash with Western Sydney

Wellington insist they have the players and flexibility to cover for workaholic forward David Ball when they host A-League strugglers Western Sydney.

Ball injured a hip flexor during last week's 2-1 win over Central Coast and will miss Saturday's match at Sky Stadium.

Although he is expected to be fit for the following week's trip to Brisbane.

The one-week prognosis is good news for the Phoenix, who feared the in-form Englishman could be out for up to a month.

In a season exceeding team expectations, 29-year-old Ball has arguably been the biggest surprise, scoring three goals and assisting another five.

His grit, allied with a neat touch, made him the best player on the park last week until he limped off.

Winger Jaushua Sotirio is set to be reintroduced to the starting XI and will hope to score again against his old club as he did in last month's 2-1 defeat of the Wanderers at Eden Park.

Coach Ufuk Talay is poised to restore goalscoring Ulises Davila to a more central role, with the Mexican star less involved last week when Ball and the promoted Gary Hooper started up front.

"The good thing about these guys is they've got versatility. Ulises can play as a nine, or as a 10. Bally's the same. Hooper's more of a traditional nine," Talay said.

"The way we've set up, we have a lot of movement and rotation where players move between lines so it gives us that flexibility with those players."

Hooper is poised to last for longer than his 60 minutes last week although playing out the full 90 is unlikely.

The former Celtic striker has scored in each of his two starts this season and Talay has warned the league to brace itself when he's 100 per cent.

"If he's scoring when he's not at full fitness, it's a good sign for us," Talay said.

Aside from injuries to Ball and Rufer, the mood is high in Wellington.

The same can't be said for the Wanderers' whose loss to Brisbane was the sixth defeat in their last eight games.

They've slipped from first to eighth over the last two months, while, over the same period, Wellington have improved from 11th to fourth.

There was at least some good news for Marcus Babbel's men this week, with Swiss central midfielder Pirmin Schwegler returning from injury.

He bolsters a side that haven't kept a clean sheet since round four.

"We concede too many easy goals. It is too easy how they can score a goal and when I see how hard we have to work to create chances," Babbell said.