Signing news: Wellington acquire New Zealand international as Dukuly comes home

New Zealand international Clayton Lewis has signed a one-year contract with Wellington Phoenix ahead of the 2020/21 A-League season.

Lewis' experience for his national side includes appearances at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and four goals at U-20 level to go with his 14 international outings.

The 23-year-old - who previously played two seasons for English League Two side Scunthorpe United FC - joins Wellington after playing last season with Auckland City in the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership.

As Wellington look to build on their third-place finish in the 2019/20 season, Lewis says he is looking forward to showing the Phoenix fans what he can do ahead of a new A-League campaign.

“To be able to join the Phoenix has always been kind of a dream of mine," Lewis told the club website.

"I was born and raised in Wellington so it’s an exciting opportunity for me – I can’t wait to get started.

“I know I’ve got a lot of creativity and I thrive on my passing abilities, hopefully I can score some goals, do whatever the team needs me to do.

“I’m looking forward to showcasing what I can do and I think it’s going to be an exciting season – I hope the Phoenix fans are going to be excited as well.”

SQUAD UPDATES: All players signed for 2020/21 A-League Season

After announcing the signing of Lewis on Wednesday morning Wellington continued to reinforce their squad by adding 22-year-old James McGarry to their ranks just hours later. 

McGarry rejoins the club after a four-year stint with the Phoenix from 2014-18.

The defender featured twice for the first team and made 52 appearances for the Phoenix Reserves in the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership, where he scored 11 goals.

McGarry has five years of international experience, having represented New Zealand on 16 occasions for the national U-17, U-20 and U-23 sides.

McGarry says Phoenix boss Ufuk Talay has clearly outlined his expectations for next season, and he's relishing the Head Coach's challenge for him to fulfil a marauding attacking left-back role in his side.

“Ufuk outlined to me the style of play, what he wants from players – including myself – and made it clear that he sees me in that attacking left back role which is where I want to play," McGarry said.

“I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started - it’s a big year for me, I’m 22 years old and I really want to come in and show what I can do.”

James McGarry
McGarry featuring for New Zealand U-23's against Australia in 2019

Adelaide United, meanwhile, have secured the services of 17-year-old South Australian local Yaya Dukuly on a scholarship deal, in a move which brings Dukuly back to play football his home state.

Dukuly joins the club from Melbourne City to link up with Reds Head Coach Carl Veart, who coached Dukuly at under-14 and 15 level during his time with the NTC and Skillaroos programs.

The promising young winger featured for Australia at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2019, coming off the bench for a brief appearance against Ecuador, and is excited to hit the ground running in the A-League with his boyhood club.

Yaka Dukuly
Dukuly preparing for Australia's clash with Nigeria at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil, 2019

“I’m really happy to be signing with Adelaide United," Dukuly told the club website.

“I’m an Adelaide boy so it’s good to be home with my friends and family and I’m really looking forward to the new season.

“We want to play the best brand of football that we can, and it’s exciting as well because we’ve got some of the best young players in the country here at the club."

Dukuly's signing will bring further dynamism and excitement to a Reds squad already brimming with youth, and Adelaide's Director of Football Bruce Djite says Dukuly has come to the right club to further develop his talents.

“Yaya is another fantastic prospect from South Australia and we’re very happy he has come home to Adelaide United," Djite said.

“At just 17 years of age, Yaya has tremendous potential, his lightning-quick pace and ability to be an attacking threat is exciting for us all. 

“Yaya has all the traits to be a successful professional and we look forward to seeing him improve and develop under the tutelage of Carl and Ross (Aloisi).”

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Yaya Dukuly Adelaide United
Dukuly is back home in South Australia after a stint with Melbourne City

Macarthur FC continued the trend of targeting up-and-coming talent by adding two developing prospects of their own to a squad which continues to grow in strength ahead of the club's first A-League campaign.

18-year-old Michael Ruhs and Liam Rose, 23, joined the club from NSW National Premier League Champions Sydney United 58 on Monday after training with the club for a number of weeks.

Ruhs accompanied Adelaide's Dukuly in Australia's squad at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil, and join's the A-League new boys at a time in which he's currently sitting his HSC at Thomas Hassall Anglican College.

Rose, meanwhile, returns to A-League action after a stint at Central Coast Mariners which ended in 2018.

Macarthur Head Coach Ante Milicic says the club's double-swoop for the duo from Sydney United 58 is a result of the hard work both players have put in at NPL level.

“Michael and Liam have shown great potential in their careers to date," Milicic told the club website.

“While Liam is no stranger to A-League football, providing him opportunities with some of the senior members of the squad will be very beneficial for his development.

“For Michael, being around the first team week in week out, will be very beneficial for his growth as a player and person.

“Both men have been working hard in the NPL this season, and they have earned their opportunity.”