Fred's gone for the season

Last updated 08:34 18/12/2008
ROSS GIBLIN/The Dominion Post
FRED FACTOR: Wellington Phoenix guest player Fred will take the field this weekend against Melbourne Victory, the team he helped guide to the 2006/07 A-League title.

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Phoenix fans have seen the last of Fred this season but the club hopes to lure the Brazilian star back next year.

Fred, who was on a six-game contract with the Phoenix, flew back to Brazil following the sudden death of his father last week.

The midfield playmaker missed Saturday's 1-1 draw with Perth and will also miss tomorrow night's home clash with Central Coast and the December 28 trip to Queensland - the last game of his six-game contract.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said fellow Brazilian Daniel had spoken with Fred, while the club was dealing with the player's agent.

"At this stage Fred's first and foremost thoughts are with his family, his mum and his brothers," Pignata said.

"I'm not expecting him back . . . his contract ends at the Queensland game on the 28th and at this stage we're not expecting Fred back and we're okay with that decision."

Pignata said the "game by game" nature of Fred's contract meant the club was not paying for nothing and he didn't expect Fred to demand money for the games he missed.

"It wasn't as if we had to outlay a lot of money," he said.

"We haven't even sat down and spoken money and I'm pretty sure that he's not going to come back to us and say 'well hang on, I should be getting this and that'."

Pignata said Fred had "loved" his time in Wellington and was hopeful of a return next season. "I'm not sure in what capacity, whether it's fulltime or another guest appearance, but I'm pretty sure he'd love to come back," he said.

The Phoenix are also in contract negotiations with goalkeeper Mark Paston this week and continue to search for strikers in preparation for Shane Smeltz's move to the Gold Coast next season.

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- The Dominion Post

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