Ricki Herbert is down to the bare bones with just 15 players from which to select a side, but he is still confident of a decent showing when his Wellington Phoenix run out against the Central Coast Mariners tonight.

It is a short turnaround for the Phoenix who are backing up just five days after their unlucky 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory.

"It isn't easy with such small numbers to work with," said Herbert yesterday. "Despite that we have played really well in our last two games and created a number of good scoring opportunities without turning them into goals.

"It is crucial in this game we make the most of anything we create because the work rate and commitment of the players so far this season has been fantastic."


In changes from the team who went down to the Victory, Manny Muscat returns from suspension forcing Niko Tsattalios to the bench while Brent Griffiths gets a start in central defence in place of suspended Ben Sigmund.

Griffiths has a special incentive in looking forward to his first start for the club after playing the last 23 minutes off the bench against Melbourne.

"Football never ceases to amaze me with the situations it throws up," Griffiths said yesterday in looking forward to locking horns with his older brother Royston tonight.

"I did come up against him when the Phoenix played the Mariners in a pre-season game. I was on trial then and only got about 15 minutes, but this is the real thing and hopefully I can finish on the winning side against him."

There is a certain irony in Griffiths, 21, getting his first Phoenix start thanks to Sigmund's red card.

Griffiths holds an unwanted Hyundai A-League record after being shown two red and three yellow cards in the five games he played for Perth Glory last season.

"That doesn't sound too good does it?" Griffiths said. "It is something I have to put out of my mind but there wasn't a very happy environment at Perth during that period.

"Things are so different here where everyone is close, but I won't be making any rash tackles and definitely won't be talking back to the referee."


The Phoenix will be up against former teammate Troy Hearfield and will also be aware of the threat posed by All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey who played a key role in helping the Mariners reach last season's grand final.

Wellington Phoenix V Central Coast Mariners
Westpac Stadium: Tonight 7.30