Wellington will be able to call upon striker Gary Hooper when they attempt to upset Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park and seal an A-League Men finals spot.

Wellington Phoenix - Melbourne Victory

  • Wellington meet Melbourne in the A-League on Friday.
  • Gary Hooper will be returning to the fold after being injured.
  • Victory are currently third in the ladder, Phoenix fifth.

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Hooper has four goals in 10 games this season but hasn't played since March 18 due to a calf injury.

With plenty on the line for Ufuk Talay's Phoenix, and Jaushua Sotirio ruled out with calf tightness. Hooper's earlier-than-expected return couldn't be better timed.

Fifth-placed Wellington only need one win from their final three games to seal a finals berth and are only a point shy of fourth-placed Adelaide United with a game in hand.

"It's been good that he's been back on the park. He will be available to be in the squad for Melbourne Victory, but with limited minutes," Talay said.

"(It is) way earlier than we expected, which is a great sign for us and the group as well.

"To get him back involved in a very important time of the season is great.

"Hoops is a proven goalscorer and to have him back in the squad for us is a very positive sign moving forward."

A 1-1 draw with Brisbane struck a blow to third-placed Victory's hopes of a late run to the premiers plate.

Tony Popovic's charges are four points behind Melbourne City and two behind Western United, who have a game in hand, with two games to go.

"We know that we're in control in a lot of areas of how this will play out, in terms of our performances and our results," Popovic said.

"We win tomorrow at home, it's our last home game of the regular season, we want to finish on a high in front of our fans and members, and that puts us in a very strong position on the table.

"If we can do that, well then it secures us for sure a top-three finish, it guarantees that and then we can see what else is possible thereafter.

"But we need to get the job done first."

Popovic was wary of the Phoenix, noting they'd changed how they played defensively and now offered a serious threat in transition.

"They have a lot on the line as well, it'll be tough, we understand that," Popovic said.

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