Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has already said he would unleash his two star signings in the game at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Tuesday night. It is still deep in pre-season, but the quality on show from both teams will make it a viewing spectacle.
Nichols played with Barbarouses at Brisbane Roar and they were teammates when the club took out the season 2010-11 A-League title.
The pair were reunited during Nichols only season with Melbourne Victory in 2013 joining Finkler in the then Ange Postecoglou manged side.
Nichols told The World Game that even at this early stage, with the A-League not kicking off until early October, the Wanderers players wanted to test themselves against the best players other teams have to offer.
“Yeah, we do, and we know what to expect,” he said. “It’s going to be a good game and hopefully we’ll get a big crowd out at Campbelltown.
“We obviously know what those two are about and I know very well myself from having played with them.
“Wellington have recruited well and strengthened their squad from last year, so it’s definitely going to be a tough clash on Tuesday, but we welcome that and we’re at home so we want to start the season well and continue on from our form of last season.
“Everybody wants to progress in the FFA Cup, so Wellington are going to play their strongest team and we’ll be prepared for that. They’ve got a quality team, with other players like Roly Bonevacia in there as well as Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler.”
Wanderers warmed up for the match with a 2-1 win in a trial game against Brisbane Roar at the Gold Coast on Friday.
Coach Tony Popovic made wholesale changes to his side at halftime, so that everyone in his squad who is available could get a run but not play for too long with the FFA Cup game only four days later.
“It was our first hit-out, so it was good to get some minutes into the legs,” Nichols said. “It was a good chance for everyone to press for selection in the FFA Cup game and it was a good performance this early on. The signs were positive after about four weeks of training.”
The two former youth team players who have been added to the senior squad for this season – Mario Shabow and Lachlan Scott – both played in the first half, as did Nichols. Shabow scored a goal off a ball from Nichols.
“We’ve lost quite a few players from last season and some of the boys have stepped up from the youth and NPL teams, which is great,” Nichols said. “Mario and Lachie have been looking good at training and Friday was a great chance for them to step up in a game.
“The foreign players the club has brought in are fitting in well, too. It’s just about getting them used to the way we play now.”
Nichols said he was confident the Wanderers, who lost 3-1 to Adelaide United in last years A-League grand final, would be highly competitive despite the workload of playing in the A-League, FFA Cup and AFC Champions League.
“Yeah, the boss is bringing in new players to make us stronger than last year and give us the ability to go further and we’ve been working hard with still two months to go before the A-League kick-off,” he said.
“It’s a big year for us and we want to take that step forward from last year and win something. We’re confident we’re going to be competitive and up there again, so it’s about working on things in the pre-season and getting better at what we want to do.”