Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Football: Moss sure the Phoenix back four will step up

Wellington's defence has a strangely unfamiliar look about it. Photo / www.photosport.nz
Wellington's defence has a strangely unfamiliar look about it. Photo / www.photosport.nz

Glen Moss holds no fears for the Wellington Phoenix back line, despite their daunting assignment tonight.

Heading into the match against Melbourne City - who scored more goals than any other A-League team last season - Wellington's defence has a strangely unfamiliar look about it.

There's no Ben Sigmund (retired), no Manny Muscat (returned to Melbourne) and no Tom Doyle (injured). Added to the absentees are Andrew Durante and Louis Fenton, who are both on All Whites duty.

The likely Phoenix back four - Jacob Tratt, Dylan Fox, Marco Rossi and Adam Parkhouse - have yet to play a competitive match together, but veteran goalkeeper Moss sees no cause for concern.

"I'm actually feeling quite confident," said Moss. "We've had a great pre-season, though it has been quite long. The new guys have all performed well and are ready to go. They'll be fine."

But Moss, who starts his 11th A-League season tonight, will have extra responsibility marshalling the new defensive unit.

"I'll need to keep them concentrating, not letting them switch off," said Moss. "Someone like Siggy [Ben Sigmund] was very vocal, always talking to the boys. I'll probably lose my voice [tonight] but it will be worth it if we don't switch off."

Much of the interest will focus on Rossi, the 29-year-old Italian defender who was a key off-season recruit. He made 100 Serie A appearances between 2005 and 2012, facing the might of Juventus, AC Milan, Roma and Inter Milan.

Rossi came through the ranks at Parma, playing 29 games in three years before successive transfers to Sampdoria, Bari and Cesena. Rossi, who was valued at 4 million ($6.2m) at one point, has spent the past four seasons with various Serie B clubs.

"He has looked all class - like you would expect from a Serie A defender," said Moss. "He'll do a great job here."

Rossi's command of English is limited, and an Italian youth team coach at the club has helped with translations.

"Marco has mainly picked up swear words so far," laughed Moss. "On the field it should all be okay ... football language is quite universal."

Moss also has a point to prove, after being left out of the All Whites squad to face Mexico tomorrow and the United States next week. The omission continued a long spell in the international wilderness for the 33-year-old, who hasn't played for his country for two years.

Melbourne City will be without marquee recruit Tim Cahill tonight - on Socceroos duty - but have 2015-16 Golden Boot Bruno Fornaroli. The Uruguayan (23 goals) was almost unstoppable last season.

- NZ Herald

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