Cornejo could fill Phoenix void

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert believes new signing Roberto Oscar Cornejo can provide the missing creative link in central midfield as the side looks to improve on its impressive efforts in the 2009/10 A-League season.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert believes new signing Roberto Oscar Cornejo can provide the missing creative link in central midfield as the side looks to improve on its impressive efforts in the 2009/10 A-League season.

Cornejo, nicknamed Toto, and rising Australian striker Mirjan Pavlovic have signed one-year deals with the New Zealand-based A-League side after impressing during trials in Wellington.

"Toto's the sort of player we think can circulate in and around the central midfield and provide the link between the front and the midfield. He's got all the skills and ability to create opportunities in the attacking third, whether it be with a deft pass or with his ability to beat a man," said the Phoenix coach who saw his side come within one game of the Grand Final last season.

"He's comfortable taking opposition players on one-on-one and he provides a different dimension to the team in the way he plays the game.

"It's fair to say we've probably lacked a player of Toto's creative quality in midfield in the past couple of seasons, so we're looking forward to seeing what he can deliver."

Pavlovic, who was promoted from the youth set-up into the Newcastle Jets senior side towards the end of last season, is a young striker with massive potential.

"Pav provides the depth we've been looking for as a central striker," said Herbert. "He has the ability to go directly at an opponent and directly at goal and that's the key quality you want in a striker. He's also got a good eye for getting into space and putting himself in scoring positions.

"He's young and still learning his trade but we think this kid has the ability to become a very accomplished Hyundai A-League player."

Both players were involved in the recent 2-1 win against Boca Juniors, while Pavlovic showed a nose for a goal with a hat-trick in a pre-season hit-out against Wairarapa United on Wednesday which Phoenix won 5-1.

Cornejo, 27, has previously played top-flight football in his home country of Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru.

Their signings bring the number of players on Wellington's roster to 19 with hopes improving that Australian defender Jade North will sign and get the Phoenix to the required 20 players by the August 4 deadline.

North, a former Jets team-mate of Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante, has been made an offer but is weighing up his options in China as well.

Indonesian international striker Bambang Pamungkas is also due to arrive in Wellington this weekend to begin a trial.