Attacking Team Wellington focus on clean sheet for clash against Southern United

Team Wellington might be all about attack, but coach Matt Calcott admits they must place increased importance on defence over the next two weeks.

Last season's ASB Premiership runners-up have injuries to at least four key players as they prepare to host Southern United on Sunday.

Team Wellington have managed two wins from three games to start the season and are favourites at home against a Southern team that has won once in four matches.

With a three-week break after Sunday week's home game against the Phoenix Reserves offering a chance for those players to recover, Calcott knows getting through to that break without too much damage is crucial to set a platform for the second half of the season.

"It's small steps at the moment, we have a pretty small squad and anything we get this side of Christmas is a bonus, to be honest," he said.

"You try and bed in some principles and be as positive as possible during these tough periods because whatever we pick up during this time is a bonus.

"We have to stay close before those reinforcements come back in, then you are there for the run in."

Calcott credited his experienced players for pushing their newcomers along, and for those new additions adapting quickly to the way the team plays.

While the team will set up more defensively in the next two games, searching for their first clean sheet, Calcott said they nevertheless still push forward.

"Defensively there is some things to polish up, but you can't go and sit on the 18-yard box. You have to be pretty positive.

"That's what we've done in the last two or three years and it's probably why we've managed to qualify for [this year's] O-League ... we're playing a bit higher up the park.

"Yeah, we take some risks, but if you can manage that and have a bit of balance to your attack, the rewards are there for you."

Southern backed up their first win of the season – 1-0 – against the Phoenix Reserves with a 2-1 loss to WaiBop United last Sunday.

But Calcott said the visitors' ordinary record would not lull his team into any kind of complacency.

Team Wellington were expecting a well organised Mike Fridge-coached Southern outfit, who would be direct and a real threat at set-piece time.

In the other match on Sunday, Hawke's Bay United will look to extend their unbeaten record and overtake Auckland City at the top of the table when they host the Phoenix Reserves in Napier.

AT A GLANCE: ASB Premiership, Sunday, Dec 13
3pm: Team Wellington vs Southern United, Dave Farrington Park
4.35pm: Hawke's Bay United vs Wellington Phoenix Reserves, Bluewater Stadium (live on Sky Sport 4)

 - Sunday Star Times