It was always going to be a thankless task, but it looks like Wellington Phoenix have been on the ball in finding a replacement for Roy Krishna.
The New Zealanders have been hit hard by the headline exit of ex-Fijian talisman Krishna – one of 13 post-season departures – but the club received a huge boost to their attacking arsenal on Friday with the signing of English forward David Ball.
Ball, 29, arrives in the Kiwi capital following a spell at Rotherham United and a loan stint to League One Bradford City. A former Manchester City youth who earned nomination for the FIFA Puskás award in 2015, the Englishman has scored 83 goals in 373 appearances in the English Football League over past 10 years.
Image credit: Wellington Phoenix
Although Ball faces a huge task to match Krishna's Golden Boot-winning output of last season, his seasoned presence and decade-long experience of the Football League will prove valuable to the youthful Phoenix side head coach Ufuk Talay has built during his short tenure at the club.
"I'll bring character to the dressing room,” Ball told reporters on Friday. “With the younger ones, I like to help them and get the best out of them because ultimately if I get the best out of them then that will help me out on the pitch.”
"I know if I do what I'm good at then goals will come. We've certainly got players at the club who can create them chances for me. I don't see it as pressure, it's something to go at that's good and I enjoy taking that on."
Ball was primarily deployed in a withdrawn attacking midfield role on loan at Bradford last season, where he scored five goals in 35 games.
He has been handed the number nine jersey, but Phoenix boss Talay believes Ball’s flexibility will prove important in a Kiwi frontline shorn of Krishna and strike partner David Williams, who accounted for 29 of the club’s 46 goals last season.
"The thing I liked about David was his versatility,” said Talay. “Last season he played a bit deeper as a second striker as well, which fits into our system and how we play and also I like that he comes from a competition where they have to be very robust as well.
"He played a lot of games during that season and I think he's good at going beyond as well, he can score goals with his feet and his head, which we need with how we want to play. Also, the information we got about his character as well, which is very important."