The Wellington Phoenix youth policy has again paid dividends with five young players from the club being named in the New Zealand team to contest the OFC Under-20 championships in Vanuatu next month.
Head coach Ernie Merrick said that the selection of Joe Bell, James McGarry, Jack-Henry Sinclair, Logan Rogerson and Sarpreet Singh was an endorsement of the Phoenix’ Academy and reserve team programmes.
“I have to give credit to our head youth development coach Andy Hedge, who joined us in October 2014 from New Zealand Football,” Merrick said.
“His success at bringing so many young players through to international level shows what an important acquisition he has been.
“It also demonstrates the enormous benefit of our Academy and how beneficial the decision of New Zealand Football to allow us to play in the ASB Championship has been.
“All five players have been training regularly with the contracted professionals and mixing with the likes of Andrew Durante and Roly Bonevacia has brought the best out of them and given them the confidence to play against older players.”
Hedge described the quintet’s selection as “brilliant” and lamented that “it is a shame we couldn’t have got more in”.
“Joe and Sarpreet have two cycles to look forward to if they continue to work hard as they will be eligible for the following under-20 World Cup.
“Not many kids have done the two cycles and it is great for them to be playing against players essentially three years older than them.
“It was also good for them to play during the winter in the Central League.
“They are all very dedicated and know what they want and their selection shows what can be achieved through hard work and determination.”
NZ Uner-20 squad:
Michael Woud (Sunderland AFC, ENG)
Cameron Brown (Waitemata FC)
Hunter Ashworth (University of San Francisco, USA)
Luke Johnson (Saint Kentigern College/Western Springs AFC)
Sean Liddicoat (Coastal Spirit AFC)
Nando Pijnaker (Western Suburbs FC)
Jack-Henry Sinclair (Wellington Phoenix FC)
Charlie Thomas (Western Springs AFC)
Reese Cox (Western Springs AFC)
Joe Bell (Wellington Phoenix FC)
Moses Dyer (Onehunga Sports FC)
Clayton Lewis (Onehunga Sports FC)
James McGarry (Wellington Phoenix FC)
Sarpreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix FC)
Myer Bevan (Nike Academy, ENG)
George Debenham (Western Springs AFC)
Lucas Imrie (Sacred Heart College/Western Springs AFC)
Logan Rogerson (Wellington Phoenix FC)