The Western Sydney Wanderers' Mitch Nichols.
The Western Sydney Wanderers' Mitch Nichols. ROSS SETFORD

Wanderers' key man to miss trip to New Zealand

WESTERN Sydney attacker Mitch Nichols has been ruled out of Saturday's game against Wellington Phoenix, but new signing Ryan Griffiths has been included in the squad for the trip to New Zealand.

Nichols has started every game this season, the only Wanderers player in the squad to have done so, but is believed he has a tight groin and was immediately told to rest this weekend given the lengthy travel involved.

The game is being played in New Plymouth, which involves at least a six-hour trip.

Griffiths has travelled with the squad after receiving his international clearance to move from Hong Kong side South China SS, and is in line to make his debut for Tony Popovic's side.

The former Newcastle and Adelaide striker has signed for the rest of the season, and will compete for a place with veteran Brendon Santalab and young forward Lachlan Scott.

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante said he knew the threat Griffiths posed when he played in the A-League, but would have to research his most recent form.

"Playing against him for so many years, he's a quick player and a good goalscorer,” Durante said.

"Western Sydney have seen something they need in him, and if he's selected we'll do our research on him.”

Facing a side one point above them and also fighting for a place in the finals, the Wanderers were warned by Durante that the stakes couldn't be higher.

"These games are all important now - fourth to seventh is very tight and if you get a couple of wins you're right up there, but a couple of losses and you're scrambling,” he said.

"We really need to go on a run especially against the teams around us, so this is a big one for us.”

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