Wellington Phoenix bank on Shane Smeltz to return to form
The struggling Wellington Phoenix are putting the loss of their top-scoring striker Roy Krishna to suspension behind them for their upcoming clash with the Central Coast Mariners.
Instead, they will be hoping the return home of another prolific scorer in Shane Smeltz will warm the fans' hearts on Saturday.
After departing in 2009 for other clubs, Smeltz, 35, returned for the club in their disappointing 1-2 loss to the Perth Glory -- where Krishna was red-carded -- but he is anticipating a warm welcome at Westpac Stadium.
"What else am I going to get?" he asked reporters on Tuesday.
He said he was enjoying being back in the Phoenix colours.
"It was a real honour to put the shirt on again, albeit as far away from Wellington as it could have been."
Smeltz said Krishna, the Phoenix's top goal scorer this season with eight goals from 11 matches, was key to the squad and would be missed.
"[But] I think we've got players to come in that will do great job."
The Phoenix are third from bottom on the A-League table, with just three wins from 13 matches.
"The table doesn't lie, we need to improve," Smeltz said.
"There's definitely room for improvement, we know that and hopefully that's going to come sooner rather than later."
Meanwhile, defender Jacob Tratt is confident the Phoenix can kick off a run of three home matches in eight days with a win over the Mariners, who sit second from bottom.
"We've done very well agains the Mariners the last four games, I think we've won [them] all," he said.
"We want to make sure we are at our best so we can get the three points each game."