Merrick relishing EPL opportunity

Ernie Merrick was looking for quality opposition to test the Phoenix in pre-season and they don’t come much better than EPL sides West Ham and Newcastle United.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was looking for quality opposition to test his team in pre-season and they don-t come much better than English Premier League sides West Ham United and Newcastle United.

It was confirmed today that the Phoenix will play the London club at Auckland-s Eden Park on July 23 and then take on Newcastle at Wellington-s Westpac Stadium on July 26.

“Both clubs have a tremendous history and big fan bases worldwide,” Merrick said.

“Our club has done a tremendous job to get them both to New Zealand and it will be a great treat for our fans and a real test for the players.

“It is always good to play clubs like this in their pre-season because everyone is trying to prove to the manager that they should be in the first team squad when the EPL season starts.

“If you play them at the end of their season it is something of a holiday junket for the players, but in July they are all playing for places.”

Merrick says pre-season is crucial for his squad and games against such top sides is just what the doctor ordered.

“Training is one thing, but you need to be playing games against good opposition,” he said.

“You need to prepare against quality teams if you are going to be ready for a very competitive A-League.

“This season we didn-t get the type of pre-season we needed. In the last few games we ended up with a starting eleven of which only half had completed a full pre-season.

“To get games against sides like this will be an enormous experience for the players and stand them in good stead for next season.”

For all information on the Football United Tour 2014, click here.

Wellington Phoenix Season Ticket holders and Club Members can purchase their tickets to the Football United Tour 2014 now when they renew for the 2014/15 season. Click here for more details.