Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has shored up his squad for next season with the club today re-signing some of its brightest young talent.
The Phoenix have secured in-form striker Blake Powell along with Lewis Italiano, Dylan Fox, Alex Rodriguez, Tom Doyle and Matthew Ridenton.
Merrick said it was vital if the club was to move forward that players the club had invested in over the past two seasons should continue playing for the Phoenix.
“The re-signings we are announcing today are the younger players who have been training with us and being coached by our staff over the past two seasons,” Merrick said.
“They were brought in with a long-term commitment and we need to retain them and keep moving them forward as players.
“Some of them have had game time this season for various reasons and have acquitted themselves well.
“Dylan Fox, who we now have for the next three seasons, has been excellent standing in for Ben Sigmund and is improving all the time.
“Matt Ridenton has played in a few different positions in the A-League side and never let the team down.
“Alex Rodriguez is coming on leaps and bounds since recovering from a pre-season injury thanks to having regular game time in what is a very important position in the team.
“Tom Doyle has also made the most of his opportunity and is making the left back spot his own.
“Blake Powell has made a statement by scoring eight goals in this A-League campaign and has had his contract extended till the end of next season.
“We need to keep building and experienced players are also needed to keep helping these youngsters improve.
“I intend to sign two or three high quality players to do that and to add stability within the team.
“Kosta Barbarouses is the first of those and he is a great signing for the club.”