Short turnaround testing A-League clubs


Stringing together wins in a packed run into the A-League finals looks like being a challenge, if the first few matches of the restarted competition are an accurate guide.

Seven of the 11 clubs have played at least one game since it resumed last Friday, with three of them already fulfilling two fixtures.

All three logged a win and a loss, with Sydney and Perth following a victory with a defeat and Wellington doing it the other way round.

The three Victorian clubs and Western Sydney have yet to resume.

With matches coming quickly because of short turnarounds, squad depth and a decent run with injuries loom as key factors for teams with finals aspirations.

Of the teams already back in action, Wellington have the toughest early schedule.

Phoenix, who played against Sydney last Friday, have just a couple of days break following Wednesday's 2-1 win over Perth before facing fellow finals aspirant Adelaide United on Saturday.

"We'll see how the boys pull up in the next couple of days and, for me, it's an opportunity for players that haven't played in these first two games to get some game time," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said.

"We're going to have to rely on the depth of our squad."

While top spot isn't realistic, Talay said third-placed Wellington would push for second, occupied by Melbourne City, who are one point ahead of them, having played a game more.

The Nix have two more games before City resume play, and if they drop points in one of the matches, Sydney will be confirmed as Premier's Plate winners.

The cooler winter weather may be responsible for one change Perth coach Tony Popovic has noticed since the competition resumed.

"I feel at times that the ball speed and the pressing is lasting longer from teams, maybe it's the conditions that enable that to happen," Popovic said.

"It''s still early stages really in terms of the games. A four-day turnaround for us and a few of the teams; you never quite know how the boys will be backing up.

"But in terms of our club we are pleased with how the boys backed up today and pleased with how they finished the game very strong.

"We anticipate that we will get better as this goes along."

Fifth-placed Perth could have jumped to third above Wellington if they had beaten the Nix on Wednesday, but Popovic was still pleased with his team's performance despite the result.

Source AAP