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Jan 21, 2009

Phoenix welcome back Durante for Victory

Wellington Phoenix have been boosted ahead of their difficult task of making the A-League finals, with skipper Andrew Durante set to return from injury to take on the Melbourne Victory.

Tough defender Durante has been struggling with a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the Phoenix's brave 1-1 draw with Adelaide United last Sunday.

That result set up a thrilling finish to the A-League season proper this weekend.

But the club says the skipper will be fit enough for selection - and will probably be thrown into the fray for Friday night's clash which the Phoenix must win if they hope to make the finals for the first time.

The Phoenix must beat Melbourne at Telstra Dome, then hope Adelaide United defeat Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday.

Both matches will also be pivotal in deciding the minor premiership, with Adelaide ahead of the Victory on goal difference going into the final round of the season.

Queensland Roar, who play Perth Glory on Saturday night, are two points behind and could pinch the minor premiership or a top two spot if one or both their rivals falter.

While Melbourne, Adelaide and Queensland will finish somewhere in the top three, both Central Coast and Wellington were confident on Wednesday they could take the last remaining finals spot.

"I'm sure we'll give it all we can, and I think you might see us there," Phoenix winger Leo Bertos told New Zealand newspaper The Dominion Post.

"Hopefully we'll be talking next week celebrating that we're in the top four."

Mariners striker Nik Mrdja was also talking tough, though his side will know exactly what they have to do as they play 48 hours after the Phoenix.

"If we don't get a result we have to hope the other results have gone our way," Mrdja said.

"But I'm quietly confident we'll get in the final four."

Meanwhile, Perth Glory defender Dino Djulbic has become the latest A-League player to depart overseas, with the Glory completing his sale to a German club on Wednesday.

Djulbic will join second division side Rot Weiss Ahlen after a successful trial.

"Dino expressed a strong desire to find a new challenge and we thank him for his contribution to Perth Glory and wish him well in a new chapter of his football career, Perth Glory chief executive Scott Gooch said.

Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya may also be sold within the next week as he continues to trial with Dutch first division side FC Twente.

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