Football 2 years ago

Wellington coach Ernie Merrick shopping for Phoenix defenders

  • Wellington coach Ernie Merrick shopping for Phoenix defenders

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick isn't done raiding the rest of the A-League for talent and has a plan to improve his squad even further for next season's campaign.

The wily coach has already convinced a pair of Melbourne Victory championship winners to join the Phoenix revolution underway across the ditch.

On Saturday, Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler will play against the side they will join for next season and Merrick says he wants two more high-quality players to join them for the next campaign.

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"We just need to get the icing on the cake," he said.

"We've done the rebuild, we need to finish it off with two defenders.

"We've got two starting 11 strikers (in Finkler and Barbarouses) and we're probably looking for two starting 11 defenders and we'll have a very good squad."

Merrick says over the previous three seasons he's built up strong depth in his squad of local talent.

He cites a league-lowest average age of starting players as a sign that the club has strength in depth that's improving.

The task to bring in the backs is underway, and Merrick said he wanted to target internationals if he could get Albert Riera and Roy Krishna to take out citizenship.

"We've got a couple of players that have lived in New Zealand for five to seven years," he said.

"There's a chance they'll get Kiwi passports, which would mean we'd get another Visa spot.

"When I first arrived at the Phoenix it was pretty tough to talk (to international players).

"Now it's very easy ... they're coming to the Phoenix because they feel there's a vision there. The club is selling itself very well."

While next Saturday's match has the potential to be awkward for Finkler and Barbarouses, Merrick said he expected the professionals would perform at their very best against their future employers.

Merrick wouldn't reveal, however, whether the pair were taking up marquee roles or if Merrick could still go shopping for a player to join on mega-bucks.

"I can't reveal that or I'd have to kill you," he dead-panned on Monday.

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