Brisbane Roar’s ongoing injury woes continue to ease with manager Mike Mulvey confirming that first-choice goalkeeper Michael Theo will travel with the league-leaders to Wellington this week.
Despite training separately from the main squad on Tuesday, Mulvey said he believed the highly experienced Theo was ready to play following a shoulder injury, although stopped short of guaranteeing his place in the starting eleven.
“I’m not going to commit on (Theo starting) just yet because we’ve got a couple of training sessions left in New Zealand,” Mulvey explained.
“But he’s got through this morning’s session quite well. His handling, his range of motion with his arm, his strength is there.
“If it holds up then there is a good chance he will start the game.”
Theo’s two-week absence had opened the door for deputy shot-stopper Matt Acton, who impressed with his performances against Perth Glory and Adelaide United.
However Theo’s selection, along with the return of Irish international Liam Miller in Friday’s 2-1 win over Adelaide United, sees defenders Shane Stefanutto and Jade North as the only first team regulars still on the sidelines for Roar.
With the results flowing for his charges, Mulvey said that he would not rush the pair back into action.
“Jade will stay behind, we want to get a good solid week of training into him.
“We don’t want him having one week on, two weeks off because it was a recurrence of the previous niggle so we’ve erred on the side of caution with him.”
Roar are yet to field a full-strength side this season following a raft of injuries to key personnel throughout pre-season and in the early rounds of the competition.
Socceroos pairing Ivan Franjic and Matt McKay sat out the training session following their recent heavy playing schedules but Mulvey confirmed both were expected to play against the Phoenix.
“Something that we’ve really had to take into account is the amount of work some of these guys have done in terms of travelling as well as training,” Mulvey explained.
“You look at someone like Ivan, who’s been on the go virtually through the whole of preseason, hardly had a rest, and it takes its toll.”
Despite Phoenix struggling so far this season in ninth position, Mulvey said his side were taking nothing for granted this weekend and described Wellington as a “dangerous opponent”.
“This is a team that has got firepower and we’re going to really need to be on our toes because it’s never easy to go to New Zealand.
“We’ve done it once this year and we got away with a win in the last minute, which was very pleasing, but it will be equally as tough a game this weekend.”
“I’ve got no doubts they will come out firing from the first whistle because they are at home, they’ll be quite embarrassed about where they are at the moment and they will want to improve it.”