'Proud' Central Coast Mariners determined to avoid worst A-League start record
Central Coast coach Mike Mulvey is on the alert for any player dropping their head as the Mariners seek to avoid an unwanted A-League record in Wellington on Saturday.
A loss to the Phoenix would be the Mariners' sixth in a row, making theirs the worst return through eight rounds of any team in the league's history.
With just two points to their name following draws in the opening two rounds, Mulvey knows his job is as much about keeping his players upbeat as it is about getting bodies back on the park.
A win at Westpac Stadium would be a panacea, even though they'd still be bottom of the table.
"What we're low on at the moment is confidence, and that just comes from winning games," he said.
"We're looking fairly and squarely at the Wellington game as an opportunity to get points on the board. We're not looking at the table and saying: 'Oh my God, what's going on?'
"The lads are very proud people, as well as footballers, and we will not drop our head. I will not allow anyone to feel sorry for themselves."
Medical dramas continue to weigh the Mariners down.
Mulvey is hopeful Aston Villa's medical staff can advance the recovery of marquee striker Ross McCormack and have him back on the park for the New Year's Eve clash with Perth Glory.
Their on-loan marksman will return to his parent club in England for a specialist assessment of his knee injury and be back in Gosford before Christmas.
The former Scottish international has missed the past two games and has learned he will be unavailable for at least two more after consulting a surgeon on Monday.
Mulvey also confirmed they will be without winger Tommy Oar (knee), the club's other key off-season signing, for at least another week.
Socceroos winger Oar has missed three games but was at least running freely at training this week.
Jonathan Aspropotamitis will again play in the youth league this weekend, with Mulvey confident the young central defender isn't far off an A-League return after nine months recovering from an ACL rupture.
Corey Gameiro (calf) is inching closer to a Mariners debut with Mulvey predicting the forward will return to full training over the Christmas period.
The brightest update was around rookie A-League attacker Jordan Murray, who injured his ankle against Perth last month but is available to face the Phoenix.