Daniel: I think I can do more

Midfielder Daniel has learned the art of patience during his time with the Wellington Phoenix.

Midfielder Daniel has learned the art of patience during his time with the Wellington Phoenix.

The Brazilian has found himself warming the bench for the majority of the season, starting just four of his 15 matches so far.

It is not a new situation for the 30-year-old who found himself on the outer in his second season with the club in 2008/09 where he managed just seven starts in his 17 games.

But it is something he has been prepared to cope with, knowing opportunities would come if he put the work in and made the 20-odd minutes he got coming off the bench each game count.

“I’m a patient guy. Everybody in the squad wants to play but I respect Ricki’s decision,” he said.

“Now I’m playing, I’m happy and I want to continue and do my best for the group.”

“I’m so happy to have started two matches but I think I can do more. I’ve been here four seasons now and everybody knows I can do more,” he added.

“It was a long time I wasn’t playing (full games) and I think I need more matches to get my best football. But I’m really happy and enjoying it now.”

Tellingly his most recent starting appearances – against Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart – have coincided with a reversal of form for the Phoenix, who snapped a run of five losses in seven games with a 2-0 win against the Hyundai A-League newcomers and backed that up with a 2-2 draw against last season’s grand finalists.

Daniel has joined Leo Bertos and Paul Ifill in an attacking trio that has resulted in more chances being created and goals being scored. Since operating as the lone striker Ifill has scored three times in the past two matches.

Bertos has a groin injury and has not travelled to Sydney for Wednesday’s game at the Sydney Football Stadium and coach Ricki Herbert confirmed he would stick with the same formation with either Nick Ward or Marco Rojas stepping up in place of the New Zealand international.

“We haven’t changed it for the last couple of weeks and I think he’s (Ifill) been good up there,” Herbert said.

“He’s been hungry, he’s worked hard and he’s put three in the back of the net which is a lot more than we’ve seen in the last few weeks so that’s been good.”

“I think he’s been assisted well by the wide players. Service has been a lot better for him so there’s probably no reason to change.”

Herbert however, appeared to be favouring Ward’s experience over the livewire Rojas, who made a useful contribution in the closing 15 minutes against Victory.

“I’m probably leaning a little bit towards Nick just for a bit of experience. Marco has missed eight or nine months of football through an ankle operation and he’s only had two runs back with the youth team. But he’s getting better and better so that’s exciting for us,” said Herbert.

There will also be another reshuffle in defence with Ben Sigmund returning from a one-match ban and slotting in at right-back.

Troy Hearfield moves across to the left again and replaces teenager James Musa, who had a baptism of fire on debut against Victory.

“We’re going to take James Musa as well and keep him involved. I think it’s important to keep him ticking on,” said Herbert.

“If we need to play him we’ll play him but I think with Ben’s experience coming back into the side it could be important for us.”

Wellington’s last game in Sydney was last season’s controversial preliminary final which saw Sky Blues striker Chris Payne put his side ahead with a hand ball goal on the stroke of half-time. Sydney eventually went on to win 4-2.

But Herbert said that was all forgotten now. “There was a bit of drama the last time we were there but that’s water under the bridge now and if we can get something from this game we’ll be pleased.”