TODAY |

Phoenix focused on next game, not coronavirus - 'Deal with what's in front of you'

Wellington Phoenix believe they're equipped to ride out any uncertainty wrought on the A-League by the coronavirus as they brace for an run of three games in seven days.

Steven Taylor. Source: Associated Press

The third-placed Phoenix find themselves in the rare position of being clear favourites against Melbourne Victory on Sunday, with the teams a picture of contrasting form ahead of the Sky Stadium fixture.

Ninth-placed Victory are under-manned and coming off a 4-1 hiding from leaders Sydney FC that leaves them seven points outside the top six.

Wellington are on a three-game winning streak and have picked up 22 points out of a possible 24 from their last eight at home.

Captain Steven Taylor says his side have become more professional under coach Ufuk Talay and will treat the visitors as if they are the powerhouse team of most seasons.

He believes they can then cope with whatever is thrown at them by a schedule that has them playing Sydney FC on Wednesday and Newcastle on Sunday, both in Australia.

There is uncertainty around international travel in what is a rapidly-changing response to the Covid-19 threat, potentially affecting their regular routines and even putting both games in doubt.

Veteran defender Taylor believed his team-mates shared his ability to deal with whatever is thrown at them.

"I'm just a football player so matter where it's played or when it is, you go with it," he said.

"Things are out of your hands sometimes and you've got to deal with what's in front of you. I don't think it will be a problem, the boys are full of confidence."

Phoenix bosses had been anticipating the biggest Wellington crowd of the season this weekend.

Those expectations may be downgraded if uncertainty about the coronavirus exists, although there is yet to a positive diagnosis to anybody in Wellington.

Taylor is confident his team can improve on the two low-scoring draws against Victory, both in Melbourne, this season although he's wary of a visiting strikeforce that now includes Marco Rojas.

Former Phoenix teenage star Rojas has scored twice in his last two games, including a brilliant solo goal against Sydney.

"He brings intensity. You watch him play, he's all over the pitch energy-wise," Taylor said of the 28-year-old, comparing his threat to lanky Swedish forward Ola Toivanen, who has a prosperous record against Wellington.

"Rojas will try to cause us some problems in the wide areas and he comes through the middle. He can go both ways, both feet."

Rojas is expected to start despite picking up an ankle injury last week but Victory caretaker coach Carlos Salvachua is without Adam Traore (hamstring), along with suspended pair Tim Hoogland and Giancarlo Gallifuoco.