Herbert content to work within Phoenix budget

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2012
Alex Smith
PHOENIX ROSTER: Alex Smith has an offer in front of him

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Phoenix bosses are adamant they can win the A-League without splashing the cash.

The re-signing of Dani Sanchez on Tuesday means the Phoenix need to contract five more players before the start of the season in October for a final squad of 20.

Alex Smith has an offer in front of him, while coach Ricki Herbert also wants a senior right back, a senior striker, an under-21 midfielder and an under-21 centre back.

Phoenix general manager David Dome said it was unlikely the club would sign the full quota of five imports and fans shouldn't expect any household names on the roster.

The league's salary cap is NZ$3.1 million and although clubs can sign a marquee player outside that, it won't be happening in Wellington.

Paul Ifill and Sanchez are the two imports on the books, with Smith a likely third.

"There's enough money left within the salary cap for us to go and fill those last five spaces with comfort," Dome said. "We're not going to sign five imports just for the sake of it. I'd be pretty confident we won't be filling all five import spots.

"We haven't overpaid for a lot of players but we're not going scrimping and saving to try and get the last ones across the line.

"The owners have been very clear, they've said: `That's the money you've got to spend Ricki and buy the players you want, but you can't go outside that'. A player like Carlos Hernandez is just not on the cards because of that reason."

The Phoenix finished fourth last season and have bolstered their roster with All Whites Glen Moss and Jeremy Brockie. But while the spine of the team is solid, there remains a feeling last season's top three; Brisbane, Central Coast and Perth have the edge in talent.

Asked if the Phoenix were trying to win the A-League now, or were putting in place building blocks for the future, Dome had a bob each way.

"There's no doubt the Brisbane and Central Coast examples have shown you don't need to spend big to win the A-League," Dome said.

"You've just got to be clever and rigorous in your player selection."

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- The Dominion Post

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