He was scratching around for players last week; now Phoenix coach Des Buckingham is spoilt for choice.

Wellington were without Ryan Lowry, Tom Doyle and Roly Bonevacia for last weekend's clash with Brisbane after the trio were dropped for a lack of professionalism following the 5-1 loss to Melbourne City the previous week.

All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey was also ruled out with a knee injury, Brazilian midfielder Gui Finkler was in Brazil after his wife gave birth to their first child and Italian defender Marco Rossi pulled up with a hamstring strain after just 20 minutes and needed to be replaced. Despite all that, the Phoenix secured a rare win at Suncorp Stadium and kept their A-League playoff hopes alive.

"I don't think 'vindicated' is the right word," said coach Des Buckingham when asked about winning without the dropped trio.


"It was an opportunity to refocus the playing group. We could have gone to Brisbane and performed poorly and lost the game as a result. But the players performed very well, they applied themselves, they stuck to their jobs, worked so hard defensively and didn't want to get beat."

"We had Kosta Barbarouses and Roy Krishna making 40-50 yard (defensive) runs in the 88th minute in what were very tough conditions."

Buckingham confirmed Lowry, Doyle and Bonevacia apologised to the team after their indiscretions and would be in the selection frame for Saturday's crucial game against third-placed Perth Glory at Albany. Whether they make the side will be a different story; in their absence, Matthew Ridenton, Adam Parkhouse and Dylan Fox all advanced their cases and would feel rightly aggrieved to be overlooked this weekend.

Ridenton will likely shift to right-back with Jacob Tratt to serve a one-match ban after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season while Fox may be in line to start if Rossi's niggle prevents his involvement.

Building depth in the squad is crucial for Buckingham and co-coach Chris Greenacre as they contemplate a clash with the Newcastle Jets on March 26 when they will be severely depleted while New Zealand and Fiji play World Cup qualifiers. The A-League is one of the few competitions around the globe that doesn't stop for international windows.

"We could potentially lose 12 players in that All Whites window," said Buckingham.

"We asked the FFA a few weeks go if we could move the fixture to a free weekend. As far as I'm aware, we've been told we can't."

"Whether or not you could say it's brings the game into disrepute by having so many players away; I don't know any other league in the world that would have that many international players away and still play that fixture," he said.

In reality, the Phoenix won't lose 12 players, but they'll certainly be hit hard. Roy Krishna will be with Fiji, while Andrew Durante, Glen Moss, Kosta Barbarouses, Michael McGlinchey (if fit), Shane Smeltz and Tom Doyle will be part of the All Whites, with Matthew Ridenton also a strong possibility to be involved. Others in the frame are Hamish Watson, Logan Rogerson and Louis Fenton, although the latter is struggling with injury and hasn't played for several weeks.

Assuming Watson and Rogerson aren't called up, a possible Phoenix eleven might be: Lewis Italiano, Jacob Tratt, Dylan Fox, Marco Rossi, Ryan Lowry, Vince Lia, Alex Rodriguez, Gui Finkler, Roly Bonevacia, Adam Parkhouse and Hamish Watson, with Oli Sail, Alex Rufer, Sarpreet Singh, Logan Rogerson and James McGarry in the reserves.