Bertos may switch to defence
August 18, 2012 11:23:32 UK
Wellington Phoenix are considering playing experienced midfielder Leo Bertos in the back four in the new A-League season.
Ricki Herbert has backed Leo Bertos.
The New Zealand international has mostly played as an attacking right-sided midfielder, but coach Ricki Herbert has used him at right-back during pre-season, and been pleased with his performances.
Wellington have had three-quarters of a settled back four for the past couple of seasons, with Tony Lochhead, Ben Sigmund and Andrew Durante establishing themselves.
But the right-back slot has been a problem area. Jimmy Downey was signed to fill the void there but struggled with injury and form last season leaving Manny Muscat and Vince Lia to fill the role.
Bertos has started two recent matches against local Wellington opposition in the back four.
"It's something I'm seriously considering. I think he's been great at right-back," Herbert said.
"Athletically he's good enough. Internationally he's proved when he's been in a defensive role - if not in a flat back four but wider midfield role with defensive responsibilities - he's coped with it.
"It might take a little bit of time and he'll have a few ups and downs along the way. But he's got good pace. His distribution is really good. He's got strong qualities to play there.
"I think Leo could make that position his own. He's good enough to do it."
Bertos admits "It's not my natural game," but is prepared to go along with his coach's plans.
"I like to go forward and get on the ball and try and create stuff," he said.
"But I think that part of my game I've still got to have in that (right-back) position. It's just the other part – stopping players getting past me and breaking them down and tackling – that I'm trying to work on at the moment. I'm doing okay.
I think Leo could make that position his own.Ricki Herbert
"We'll see what happens when the season comes but I'll be happy to play there as long as I'm playing I guess."
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