EXCLUSIVE: Wellington Phoenix may be excluded from the national youth league but owner Terry Serepisos now has a reserve side in the works to develop his club's roster.
It’s believed Phoenix will run a second side in partnership with Football New Zealand with the team set to play around 20 competitive fixtures a year against various Kiwi – and potentially other – opposition, report O Kosmos columnists Tony and Xanthie Rallis.
While this Phoenix team will not be part of any registered competition, it allows last year's A-League finalists an outlet for squad players who aren't playing regularly to gain valuable match practice.
The lack of a shadow side has long been a factor that’s worked against Ricki Herbert’s side, and with no apparent movement on the NYL issue, the club sees this as the ideal workaround for the time being.
It also allows the club to invite and access young New Zealand trialists with a view to monitoring their progress and hopefully providing an outlet to senior contracts with Wellington.
Meanwhile Phoenix tuned up for their first game of the season against Gold Coast United on Friday – they began with a bye – with a 5-1 defeat of the All-White U20 side at Hutt Park Raceway on Saturday.
In very heavy conditions, Leo Bertos scored the opening goal directly from a corner, while Ben Sigmund, Tim Brown, Paul Ifill and Toto also scored.
Attacking midfielder Diego is the only member of the 20-man squad ruled out of the season opener, say local reports.