Phoenix young guns please Chris Greenacre
India's playing surfaces have left him far from impressed, but Chris Greenacre is raving about Phoenix academy prospects Louis Fenton and Tyler Boyd.
Despite dodgy pitches, the Phoenix have comfortably won the first two games of their four-match tour, beating United Sikkim FC 3-0 and Shillong Lajong 5-2.
The next assignment is a friendly today against an I-League selection before the final of the North East Super Series on Saturday, with both games to be played on artificial surfaces.
Fenton and Boyd both scored against United Sikkim and have generally impressed Greenacre with their ability and dedication.
The attacking duo appear well placed to grab the club's remaining two under-21 contracts.
"With myself and Tim Brown retiring, we were a little light in the forward area, so we've pushed those two players on further than the others in terms of game time," Greenacre said from Shillong.
"Those two have been given the opportunity and taken it."
Greenacre believed Wellington's Fenton and Hamilton's Boyd would cope "really well" if they were handed A-League action this season.
The development of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Fenton compared favourably with Marco Rojas at the same age.
"Louis is a bit more physically mature than Marco probably was, so maybe he could handle it a little bit earlier," Greenacre said.
"If you're putting him in Marco Rojas' bracket, then obviously that's a great compliment to Louis, and I'm sure he can go on to do things as well as Marco has. So who knows, you could have a legend player in your midst. But it's a long way off that and you don't want to put too much pressure on him."
Greenacre said Boyd, a 17-year-old striker, was a "natural goalscorer".
"And he scores in all kinds of ways, from little tap-ins to 30-yard bombs. He's got a quick turn of pace, he's quite strong, he can link play as well and bring players into the game. And his attitude has been a different class. So as long as they can keep their feet on the ground and maintain what they're doing, there's no reason they can't be top footballers."
The youngsters, in addition to the signings of Jeremy Brockie and Benjamin Totori, will give the Phoenix attack a different dimension this season.
Suddenly the club has speed to burn.
"That's what the game is all about - pace and power up the top, and we've certainly got that this year," Greenacre said.
While unhappy with pitch quality in the first two games, Greenacre said the trip had been a worthwhile exercise so far.
He stressed it was not a holiday and head coach Ricki Herbert had asked the players to steer clear of the local cuisine.
"We've put a ban on that and we're eating in the hotel. We're here to work not to have a jolly up. The main thing that's let us down has been the pitches but it's a great country and wonderful for team bonding."
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The Dominion Post