Roar players regain confidence under coach Mulvey's guidance
BRISBANE Roar captain Matt Smith is positive his team can not only beat Wellington at Suncorp Stadium tonight, but also challenge for a third-straight A-League title.
After a horror start to the season that brought just three wins from the first 11 games before Mike Mulvey replaced Rado Vidosic as coach, Smith said the players had regained their self-belief.
"Over the two games that Mike's been here, he's been very, very positive," Smith said.
"He's been great off the pitch with player management, making sure that all players are motivated and have a positive mindset going into games."
That change was best demonstrated by Mitch Nicholls who was dumped by Vidosic before the round seven clash against Sydney, but returned to play arguably his best game of the season in the 1-0 win against Adelaide last week.
Defender Erik Paartalu had been publicly critical of Vidosic for his negative reaction following a loss against the Mariners in round eight, but Smith said things had quickly taken a turn for the better under Mulvey.
"Mike's certainly implemented that (intensity) over the last couple of weeks," Smith said.
"What's been missing over the course of the season is that team commitment to pressing. I think over the last couple of weeks, certainly against Adelaide, it was a big team performance."
Ivan Franjic is likely to play tonight despite an injured heel.
The Phoenix is unchanged after last Thursday's come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Melbourne Heart, although coach Ricki Herbert has yet to decide the make-up of his bench after adding midfielder Cameron Lindsay to the trio of Alex Smith, Benji Totori and Stein Huysegems.
Meanwhile, Western Sydney received a boost ahead of tonight's clash with the Melbourne Victory at Parramatta Stadium, re-signing captain Michael Beauchamp until the end of next season.
Wanderers players Adam D'Apuzzo (calf), Tahj Minniecon (foot) and Aaron Mooy (suspension) will miss the clash, while Adrian Leijer (suspension) returns for the Victory.
The Newcastle Jets will welcome back Scott Neville for this afternoon's fixture against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park, while Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhardt are both back from suspension for the hosts.