Phoenix strikers set free

Despite Shane Smeltz's departure, Wellington Phoenix forwards Adam Kwasnik and Greg Draper will miss out on contracts for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season.

Despite Shane Smeltz's departure, Wellington Phoenix forwards Adam Kwasnik and Greg Draper will miss out on contracts for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season.

Golden boot and Johnny Warren Medal winner Smeltz has signed for expansion club Gold Coast United, although is embroiled in controversy surrounding a possible deal with Turkish side Hacettepe SK.

That leaves a hole in the Phoenix's striking stable but Kwasnik and Draper's lack of impetus over the past season sees them set free.

Kwasnik's failure to make his mark in Wellington is the biggest letdown for the Phoenix after his off-season switch from the Central Coast Mariners.

The 25-year-old scored 14 goals in 60 appearances for the Mariners but failed to find the net once for the Phoenix in 12 games in 2008/09.

He has been linked with a move back across the Tasman to his former club.

Draper, who spent two seasons at the Phoenix as one of three mandatory under-20 players on the club's roster, has received limited opportunities and has suffered from the club's shut-out from the new National Youth League.

"Ultimately it became apparent that it was very unfair on Greg not to be giving him the game time he needs to develop further as a footballer," Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said.

"Greg is a tremendous talent for the future but, given that we don't have a team in the National Youth League, the opportunities for him to play good, competitive football were few and far between.

"It was decided that the best course of action for Greg was to help him into a situation where he will be playing more regularly and the club will do everything possible to achieve that."

According to Pignata, the Phoenix will now seek to find a team for 20-year-old Draper in the Australian state leagues or the New Zealand Football Championship.

"It'll do Greg a power of good to simply be playing football. We've got some good contacts with state league clubs in Australia and we've already made some approaches regarding Greg," Pignata said. "I think he will really show his potential when he starts playing more regularly."