Smith stays on with Phoenix

Alex Smith is staying at Wellington Phoenix for the rest of the A-League season after agreeing a new deal with the club.

Alex Smith is staying at Wellington Phoenix for the rest of the A-League season after agreeing a new deal with the club.

Smith, who can play up front and in midfield, joined the New Zealand-based club one game into the 2011/12 season as an injury replacement with a deal that ran until January 16.

But coach Ricki Herbert has hinted for weeks that he would like the American to stay on.

"The new deal takes me through to the end of the season and we have had preliminary discussions, which are promising, for me to be here next year," Smith said.

"I would love to stay on because I-m really enjoying my football here. Ricki has been good in giving me a chance and I am trying to repay him. It has also been easy to settle in because the players, who are a really close group, made me welcome from day one."

Smith arrived at the Phoenix after having his contract with Gold Coast United abruptly cancelled which made being part of the 1-0 win over the Queensland side on Sunday all the sweeter.

Smith also said he owed a debt of gratitude to former Phoenix keeper Glen Moss, who is now playing for Gold Coast.

"All the players were gutted for me when I was told I was no longer needed at United," Smith said.

"Glen kindly contacted Ricki and suggested I was worth looking at so I didn't want to let him down either."

Smith is likely to be part of the squad to face Newcastle Jets on Friday night, although Vince Lia (knee) is expected to join his team-mates ahead of the match at Ausgrid Stadium after being left behind in Wellington for Sunday's game.

Having earned their first away win of the season at Skilled Park, the Phoenix will now be looking to get back-to-back wins in Australia for the first time in their history.

Sunday's win and Melbourne Heart's 2-1 loss to Perth saw fourth-placed Phoenix close the gap with third-placed Heart to just one point.