WELLINGTON captain Andrew Durante has played every minute of Phoenix's past 50 games but he won't be lining up against his former club Newcastle Jets on Saturday.
Durante collected his fifth yellow card of the season in Wellington's 2-0 loss to Gold Coast United and will be a significant absentee for the crucial match at Westpac Stadium.
The skipper has been key to Phoenix's defence since his arrival in Wellington for the 2008/09 season and his combination with Jon McKain last season was a vital element in the club's run to the preliminary final.
This season there has not been the same solidity at the back as injury, suspension and form have led to an almost constant rotation of players which has played a part in Phoenix leaking 34 goals already, compared to 29 for the whole of last season.
This weekend the defensive reshuffle will see Ben Sigmund return to his preferred position in central defence alongside Jade North, Troy Hearfield switch to right back and Manny Muscat slot in at left-back.
Sigmund admits it's not been an ideal situation but one the players cannot use as an excuse.
"It certainly makes a difference when you've got the same team out there week in week out consistently performing," he said.
"You can't beat games together and the organisation and the communication and all those bits and pieces that go with it.
"You can't coach (that instinct of knowing where your team-mate is). You can't do anything apart from play. It has been tough but you still can't use that as an excuse."
Coach Ricki Herbert has also hinted at changes in the front third as well with Marco Rojas a chance to start on one flank with Leo Bertos likely to return on the other after coming off the bench last weekend.
Paul Ifill and either Dylan Macallister or Chris Greenacre will be spearheading the attack in a match Phoenix must win to stay in the pack chasing for a play-offs berth.
"We need to beat them," Herbert said. "There's 30 points to go which is more points than we've got already. Saturday night is a very important game for us."
Newcastle, who will have Ljubo Milicevic, Kasey Wehrman and Jobe Wheelhouse suspended for Saturday night's match, head to Wellington in good form.
Wednesday night's 2-0 win against Gold Coast United was their seventh game unbeaten, a complete turnaround from the start of the season when they won just once in 11 games.
Striker Francis Jeffers has been a catalyst for them. Although he didn't get on the score sheet in midweek, he remains one of the Jets' danger men.
"He's got good experience and he's a good player. We've got to make sure we're switched on and don't give him as much time on the ball as he wants," North said.
"Everything is starting to go well for them. They are going to be coming here looking for the three points, but not if we can help it."