Huysegems quietly goes about his business

He's not Alessandro Del Piero or Emile Heskey, but Stein Husyegems is getting the job done at Wellington Phoenix, albeit for a fraction of the cost.

Amidst all the hype and fanfare that has surrounded Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey since they joined the Hyundai A-League, Stein Huysegems' arrival at the Wellington Phoenix has barely rated a mention.

The former Belgian international may not have the pulling power of the Italian and Englishman but he is proving to be an astute acquisition by Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert - and at a fraction of the cost.

While the cameras have followed Del Piero's every move, Huysegems has gone about his work in the New Zealand capital with a quiet efficiency - much like the Phoenix do year after year.

The 30-year-old would probably like to have more goals to his name than the three he has scored so far, but overall he is fulfilling the traditional centre forward role he's been asked to play alongside the more creative Paul Ifill and faster forwards like Louis Fenton and Jeremy Brockie.

"They complement each other really, really well. I know myself, when you're a target man up there you need support quite early at times because if you are left up front on your own and balls are being played in difficult circumstances sometimes you need to be able to play one-touch in order to give your team a chance of the opposition not closing you down," explained Wellington assistant coach Chris Greenacre, the man Huysegems replaced in the side.

"Having those players around him is giving him that option. But he is able to see those runs and he's good enough to find people around the corner and play one-touch whether it comes to his feet, his head or his thigh or chest or whatever.

"He likes to get hold of the ball with back to goal and bring other people into play and get himself in the box. For a big guy he's got really, really good feet. He's left-footed which is a little bit different to what we've had at the club."

The combination with Ifill and Brockie has taken some time to settle in. Ifill admitted he was struggling for form in the early rounds, but the return to the 4-3-3 system that Herbert prefers has seen a change in fortune for the Phoenix talisman.

Against Western Sydney Wanderers Ifill was more involved and looking for opportunities and he was once more making life difficult for defenders with his ability to get round his man.

"He had a run down the right-hand side where he jumped in and out and that was Paul of old," said Greenacre.

"Whenever we've got Paul Ifill firing on all cylinders that's great for the team.

"I think he's probably just missing a goal from open play really. He's got himself off the mark with a couple of penalties. He is always really reliable with that."

For so long, Ifill has been the man the Phoenix have looked to for their goals - whether he has been scoring them or setting them up for his team-mates.

Ifill is still the most creative player they have - although when Dani Sanchez returns from injury that will add another dimension to the attack. But the arrival of Huysegems and New Zealand international Brockie has taken some of that pressure off.

Brockie, in particular, has delivered on the scoring front with six goals in five games since breaking his drought against Melbourne Victory.

"Jeremy does take a little bit of pressure off Paul," said Greenacre. "But Jeremy is delivering on all fronts. He's playing very, very well.

"Even in his first couple of games when he wasn't getting the chances and Stein was scoring the goals he stayed confident and he worked hard in training and he got his rewards."

What the Phoenix need to do now is turn more of the opportunities they are creating into goals. In the Wanderers match it was a freaky, wind-assisted goal for Brockie that earned them the points.

But Brockie had two other clear opportunities - one in each half - which he wasted, while Ifill, Huysegems and midfielder Vince Lia also spurned chances by either shooting straight at the goalkeeper or blazing the ball over.

The midfield also needs to contribute more on the attacking front too. Manny Muscat, Lia and Alex Smith are defensively very sound and industrious, but it is rare to see them make a strong run into the box or pose a threat from set-play.

The retired Tim Brown was often on the end of corner kicks and free kicks and contributed a healthy number of goals because of it.

"Tim was always great at timing those runs into the box. That's something we need to look at," conceded Greenacre.

"The midfield boys will say they'd love to score one or two more goals. But we've got good options throughout that front five now. So hopefully if they can share enough goals around them then we'll be okay."