Phoenix sign Crowther

Former Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Reece Crowther has been given a one-year deal with the Wellington Phoenix for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season.

Former Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Reece Crowther has been given a one-year deal with the Wellington Phoenix for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season.

Australian Crowther, 20, impressed during a trial for the side and returns to the region after initially joining Crystal Palace and then QPR in 2006.

He was a regular starter for the QPR reserves without making a first team appearance.

Crowther said: "I spent a few years away but the opportunity to come back and join the Phoenix was too good to pass up. The club is fantastic and the set-up is first-class, so I see it as the perfect place for me to advance my career."

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata was delighted with Crowther's signing.

"Reece has played at a high level in England and we're rapt to be able to bring him to Wellington. He's a young, talented player who has fitted into the squad very well and he's got the hunger and desire to perform."

Crowther's presence will ensure healthy competition for the 'keeping role with All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston.

"We see him as more than capable of pushing for the starting spot," Pignata said.

"He hasn't been signed as a 'second 'keeper' - he's here to challenge Mark and fuel competition for places in the first team. It's good that we have two quality 'keepers in Mark and Reece in our squad."

Pignata said Crowther's return highlighted the growing appeal of the A-League and players were now aware that they could make a good career in Australasia without having to play in the lower leagues in Europe.

"That bodes well for the future of the game in this part of the world," he said.