Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante is set to be the first outfield player to play 250 games in the A-League when his team locks horns with Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
Durante put his longevity down to the luck of being injury-free, however the 34-year-old has suffered two broken legs in his time with previous clubs Newcastle Jets (2008) and National Soccer League (NSL) side Parramatta Power (2003).
The veteran currently sits five games behind Danny Vukovic (254) for the most appearances in the A-League.
“It’s pretty special to be the first player in a brand new competition to reach that milestone, it's pretty cool to be honest,” Durante said.
“I’ve looked after my body pretty well, I understand my body really well, know when and when not to push it. I’ve had coaches who have been great with me, have allowed me to sit out if I felt I needed to.
“That’s helped. What I strive to do is be as consistent as possible and it seems to have held me in pretty good stead.”
Durante said his team faces an almighty task to dig themselves out their current crisis, sitting rock bottom of the table after losing all four games of the new campaign.
The skipper however was adamant turning the season around was not unrealistic.
“I look around and I just think 'there’s no way we should be in this situation with the players we have,' and we all know that,” he said.
“Individually we all have to improve, collectively as a group, and you’ll see a much improved very hungry team tomorrow night.
“Everyone in the group still believes we can turn this around, patches of last season we were thinking ‘how are we going to get out of this?’ But I don’t feel like that, I know we can get out of this.”
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick said two players were ruled out for the clash – Adam Parkhouse and Tom Doyle - and the coach now faces the difficult task of selecting an unrecognised left-back to play against the Jets.
Compounding the problem, the Nix are coming off a 6-1 loss against Melbourne Victory last Monday, where the only positive was putting away their first goal of the season.
Merrick made it clear his team’s best performance of the season came against Sydney FC and believed a lack of concentration was costing results.
In their final preparations he invited Wellington chairman Robert Morrison to the club meeting who had nothing but support.
“I’m not happy with… it’s not just the backline when you talk about defence, I think we could defend a lot better hence a lot of work from defending at the front today. In the last four games we’ve given away four penalties, that’s not good enough,” Merrick said.
“When we don’t give away silly penalties we’re a much stronger team, the other scores were 1-0, 1-0 and 2-0, so we haven’t conceded many when we don’t give away penalties.
“I would think the boys would be really keen to achieve something in front of their own crowd after a game like that.
“I’m certainly keen to...I can’t remember losing a game 6-1 (before) and we’re not in a good position, we’ve allowed ourselves collectively to lose four matches.
“There’s no hiding from that and if anything I think the boys have put themselves under pressure to make sure they give everything in the game tomorrow and that’s been pretty evident in what goes on out there.”