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Nov 12, 2007

Kosmina wary of depleted Wellington

Sydney FC coach John Kosmina has warned his men against complacency as they prepare to face a Wellington outfit missing at least seven players and their coach.

The Phoenix will be without New Zealand internationals and first team regulars Shane Smeltz, Jeremy Christie, Tony Lochhead and Tim Brown for Saturday night's A-League clash at Westpac Stadium.

Back-up goalkeepers Mark Paston and Jacob Spoonley will also be on duty with the All Whites for their Oceania group World Cup qualifier against Vanuatu earlier on Saturday, marquee player Ahmad Elrich is suspended following his sending off in last Sunday's 3-0 loss to Queensland, and midfielders Richard Johnson (hamstring) and Ross Aloisi (back) were injury concerns.

Wellington coach Ricki Herbert will be with the All Whites as well, leaving caretaker Wayne O'Sullivan to piece together the threadbare squad.

On a positive note, the Phoenix have brought in former Adelaide United defender Kristian Rees for the remainder of the season, while Victorian premier league `keeper Stuart Webster has signed a one-week contract as cover for Glen Moss.

"I wish they weren't so depleted, to be honest, that way we wouldn't get complacent," said Kosmina, undefeated in his three matches at the helm following Branko Culina's sacking.

"Wellington won't be an easy place to visit and they'll be hurting after their loss on the weekend.

"The boys have a good attitude at the moment, I'm happy with them, and I hope we can keep our run going."

Sydney are the only A-League team with an unbeaten away record in 2007-08, which is unusual given their poor 2-1-4 (win-draw-loss) record at home.

The sky blues are also bidding for their third successive clean sheet, which would be a first this season.

"I've been very happy with the boys at the back," added Kosmina.

"Mark Rudan and Tony Popovic have been pretty impressive and they'll need to do the job again this weekend."

Sydney go into the round 13 match sitting fifth, one point outside the top four and a finals berth, but it's a seven point gap to leaders Central Coast.

Despite the deficit, Kosmina had not given up hope of topping the table come January.

"Making up seven points in nine games is mathematically possible," the former Adelaide United mentor said.

"We still have to play Central Coast and if we beat them the gap becomes four. It's do-able and we'll be pushing to finish as high as we can. There's no point settling on making the four."

Sydney will be without Mark Milligan and Ruben Zadkovich on duty with the Olyroos, while veteran Steve Corica is rated a 50-50 chance to recover from a groin injury.