There is an experimental look about the Wellington Phoenix line up for Friday’s opening Indian tour game against URO United Sikkim in Impahl, but head coach Ricki Herbert is expecting a strong showing.
School of Excellence players Tyler Boyd, Louie Fenton and Luke Rowe will start, with Tony Lochhead in an unfamiliar centre back role and Cameron Lindsay in midfield.
While the side’s make up was dictated in part by suspension to Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat, Herbert made it plain he was happy with it.
“Tyler and Louie are getting starts on merit, and Cameron and Rowie have been rewarded for the effort they have been putting into training,” Herbert said.
”They’ve been patient. Opportunities were always going to come on this tour and for them it has come in the opening game.
“It is a good opportunity for them and hopefully they will make the most of it.”
Herbert said everyone was keen to play after three days training in New Delhi and the party will leave for Impahl by air early Thursday morning.
There was a definite edge to training at a private school by the American Embassy today and Herbert wants to see it carried over into the game.
“We are going into a real football area. A big crowd is expected and that will be good for the players, especially the young ones who haven’t been in that environment before.
“I will rotate the team a bit but still want them to play well and get results.”
Herbert said he was looking for a good 60-minute performance from the starting XI before he introduced fresh legs.
“We won’t hold back. I want them to play with high energy and keep up a good tempo,” he said.
“(Sports scientist) Ed Baranowski has done a good job with them and we are following his plan,” he said.
“The weather (in the high 30s) is very demanding, but that is why we are here. I want the players challenged.”