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Shane Smeltz knows Wellington Phoenix can improve in the A-League

Wellington Phoenix striker Shane Smeltz
Shane Smeltz will be the key man for the Wellington Phoenix against the Central Coast Mariners.

Striker Shane Smeltz says the Wellington Phoenix are a work in progress and the A-League club know they have to improve.

Smeltz began his second stint with the Phoenix in a 2-1 away defeat to the Perth Glory last Thursday.

It was the first loss for the co-coaching team of Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre, who took over after Ernie Merrick resigned in early December.

As they eye a run of three home matches, the Phoenix are in eighth position on the competition ladder, four points outside the top six.

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"We certainly know what we need to work on," Smeltz said.

"It's a work in progress. We're playing a different way from what the boys were playing, I understand, four or five weeks ago.

"There's definitely room for improvement, we know that, and hopefully that's going to come sooner rather than later."

The much-travelled Smeltz played for the Phoenix between 2007 and 2009.

The 35-year-old All White lasted just more than an hour in his first match back in the A-League before being subbed and he said he knew he was going to fade in the second half.

His departure was quickly followed by that of the Phoenix's top-scorer, Roy Krishna, who was controversially shown a straight red card for a tackle on Shane Lowry.

The sending off means Krishna, who had scored in the 11th minute to take his season tally to eight goals, putting him equal fourth in the league, will miss the match against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

"He's key to the squad, that's for sure," Smeltz said.

"He's been doing well this season, so we'll certainly miss him, but I think we have players to come in that will do a great job."

Smeltz was among those to question whether Krishna should have got his marching orders.

"Personally I didn't make much of it at all," he said of the challenge. "I've seen far worse."

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