Bounce-back ALM experts Wellington face Victory test

On the rare occasions they've been beaten this season, Wellington have bounced straight back.

The A-League Men title contenders have responded to previous losses by beating Macarthur FC and Sydney FC away and drawing with Adelaide United - all strong results earned on the road.

The Phoenix slipped to a 2-1 added-time loss in the table-topping clash against Central Coast last Saturday.

Giancarlo Italiano, coach of the second-placed Nix, will be counting on that 'bouncebackability' once more when third-placed Melbourne Victory come to town on Friday night.

Giancarlo Italiano.
Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano reacts to Wellington's late loss against the Mariners.

"They're resilient by nature, my playing group, every time a challenge is put forward to them, they've always stepped up," he said.

"It's so cliche, but you do learn a lot from defeat. It's the best time to address any issues you have."

Italiano urged perspective from any fans who might have been let down by the result, which sees them slip from top spot on the table to second, on wins.

"When I reflected on that coming on the plane back from Central Coast, I was actually quite proud," he said.

"The same people are saying that we're going to finish last are now saying, 'it'll be disappointing if you don't finish it off'.

"We've come quite a long way."

Wellington will benefit from the return of skipper Alex Rufer for the Victory's visit, with Oskar Zawada still battling a leg injury and yet to train - though you wouldn't know it from the Polish striker's Instagram.

"It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up… Wellington Phoenix see you soon again," he posted, along with a video of him running in the gym to inspirational music.

Italiano said despite his enthusiasm, a short-term return wasn't on the cards.

"Well he's got to train first ... I can't speak to his cryptic post," he said.

Tim Payne, who came off the bench against the Mariners, is also a likely starter, though may not last the distance.

Firm favourites with bookies after three wins in their last four including last week's derby over City, the visitors have lost three players to Olyroos duty.

Ryan Teague, Nishan Velupillay and Jordi Valadon have travelled to Qatar for the AFC U23 Asian Cup.

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