Stein Huysegems played his first competitive football in four months as he donned his Wellington Phoenix shirt for the first time.
Stein Huysegems played his first competitive football in four months as he donned his Wellington Phoenix shirt for the first time in a training game against a Team Wellington select XI.
The Belgian international showed some nice touches, including one superb back heel to Alex Smith, and made some intelligent runs during his 45-minute spell.
But there was some understandable rustiness after such a lengthy lay-off and he couldn't quite add the finishing touch with a goal.
"One time the keeper saved well and one time I was too short (to get in on a cross). Maybe we save the goals for the season so that's good," he said.
"It was the first 45 minutes after four months so I'm glad to play some minutes.
"It's nice to play again and get to know the boys and the boys to know me and how I play. That's good. That's important.
"We still have two more games to play before the season starts, so that's good."
The Phoenix were never troubled and won the game 5-0 with Louis Fenton and Jeremy Brockie continuing their excellent pre-season form. Goals from the pair gave the Phoenix a 2-0 lead at the break.
New under-21 signing Tyler Boyd replaced Huysegems at half-time with coach Ricki Herbert happy with the 30-year-old Belgian's first-up effort.
"There were some good touches and good movement. We were only going to give him 20 or 30 minutes tonight but we stretched that out a little bit for him and we'll start him again at the weekend (against Western Sydney)," Herbert said.
"The next couple of weeks will be good for him. There were some nice touches, some good things into the box. I think he'll build nicely leading into the season."
The best of the five goals was a Smith volley from a Fenton back heel early in the second half before Brockie grabbed his second and Boyd coolly finished to wrap up the win.
Herbert gave all his fringe and academy players a run in the final 25 minutes.
"We're travelling really well at the moment," he said. "Everyone got off the bench tonight. Those young players too just keep things going for you. There's some great depth there. I'm very pleased."
Fenton certainly couldn't do much more to earn himself the final under-21 spot on the roster.
He worked hard for the full 90 minutes, pushed forward well and his back heel to set up Smith's goal was pin-point.
What may work against Fenton is the number of attacking midfielders and forwards Herbert already has even though the injured Dani Sanchez and Paul Ifill are yet to return to the mix.
"We haven't ticked it off yet (the decision on the contract) but he's doing a good job. He's a real talent," Herbert said.
"I take my hat off to him. He's making every post a winning post. His performance tonight is certainly going to help him."