Football: Mark Rudan puts Phoenix on notice ahead of Melbourne Victory clash

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has put his squad on notice ahead of a run of season-defining games in the A-League.

The Phoenix face the top four sides in the A-League over the next fortnight, starting with the defending champion Victory in Melbourne on Sunday.

Last time Wellington played the Victory in Melbourne, the Nix came away with a crucial point, a result which accrued during their club-record eight game unbeaten stretch.

After the club's last match, a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners, Rudan released Australian duo Mitch Nichols and Reuben Way from their contracts.

And he's told his players it's just the start.

"I've put them on notice. I've told them that this is the start. No one is safe," he said on Saturday.

"You're either here to the environment and the culture that has been set up and the values [sic]. Not just from that point of view, it's also important you perform.

"It is important that you perform to the levels and demands required at this football club and you can you can call it ruthless or whatever you want but I want this club to improve, I want the players to improve, and we're looking to do [that]."

Rudan hopes to add one or two players to his squad before the end of the January transfer window.

After the encounter against Victory, the fifth-place Phoenix face Sydney FC, Melbourne City and Perth Glory - all teams above them in the standings.

But Rudan says he isn't fazed about the schedule, saying the next four matches won't define their season.

"There is still a long way to go and plenty of matches to be played.

"I don't think its season defying. One loss doesn't mean your season's over whether you win, lose or draw that game.

"We play Melbourne Victory tomorrow and as far as I'm concerned that's the main focus. I'm focused on putting together a plan against the Victory, and that's it.

"That is going to be a challenge itself, and we're going out to win the week." 

The Phoenix are set to welcome back Mandi Sosa and Alex Rufer for the match against Melbourne with both returning from suspension.


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