Jason Pine is Radio Sport's football commentator

Football: Watson set to start for injury-hit Phoenix

Hamish Watson is back in the Phoenix fold. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Hamish Watson is back in the Phoenix fold. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

Loan signing Hamish Watson may be rushed straight into the Wellington Phoenix starting side as the A-League club searches desperately for a solution to their goal-scoring woes.

With Englishman Alex Jones' transfer held up by an administrative blunder during the week, when New Zealand Football failed to lodge the transfer papers with Fifa in time, Watson looks set to join Blake Powell and Joel Stevens in a re-jinked front three for tomorrow night's visit to the high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Phoenix are in one of the most barren runs in their history, having gone nine games without a win, including four-straight defeats. They've scored only four goals in their last seven outings but the 22-year old Watson, who has joined the club from ASB Premiership outfit Hawke's Bay United, doesn't feel pressure to provide a silver bullet.

"There's pressure everywhere you go so, yeah, there's a bit of pressure but hopefully it'll make me push myself harder," he said. "I want to come in, work hard and give the side something a little bit different in the front third and hopefully bang some goals in."

Watson made two appearances off the bench for the Phoenix in March 2014 before heading offshore to try his luck in the UK. He returned home after short stints with Grimsby Town and Gainsborough Trinity and admits to some dark times in his fledging footballing career.

"I went overseas and fell out of love with the game. When I came back I didn't really want to play," said Watson.

It was another former Phoenix player in the shape of Paul Ifill who came to Watson's rescue. Ifill was coaching Wairarapa United in the Central League and invited him to dip his toe back into the footballing water last year. That led to an offer to play for Hawke's Bay over the summer where Watson has been a standout, netting six goals.

"I've just really been enjoying my football again and getting back to some good form," he said.

The Phoenix will welcome Albert Riera back from suspension for tomorrow's clash at Pirtek Stadium, but fellow midfielder Alex Rodriguez has been ruled out with a knee injury and veteran Vince Lia remains sidelined with his own knee niggle.

Riera's return to the defensive midfield role should see Manny Muscat revert to right-back with Louis Fenton dropping to the bench. Promising youngster Dylan Fox is again likely to partner skipper Andrew Durante in central defence.

- NZ Herald

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