White has a point to prove

Miramar Rangers attacking midfielder Michael White has jumped at the chance to join YoungHeart Manawatu for this year's national league and feels he has a point to prove.

The Chatham Cup winner and former New Zealand age-group representative was overlooked by Team Wellington coach Stu Jacobs last season despite playing well in the Central League during the winter.

"I was a bit annoyed from last year because I missed out on playing for Team Wellington after having a pretty good season," White said.

"I didn't really have the option of playing for Team Wellington because I don't get on that well with the coach."

Despite being a former New Zealand A player and a member of the now-defunct New Zealand Knights in the A-League, White said Jacobs still held him in low regard.

"It's just a past problem, I've sort of got over it myself. It's down to him at the end of the day to choose who he wants in his squad."

The Manawatu Standard understands the fallout stems from an incident when White was in the New Zealand under-20s side that was coached by Jacobs.

White scored Miramar's third goal in this year's Chatham Cup final as the Wellington side triumphed over Bay Olympic 3-1.

YoungHeart Manawatu coach Bob Sova has named his initial squad of 20 players and can add up to five more up until January.

There is a number of Manawatu-based players training with the side and if they impress could find themselves on the team sheet, which includes nine names from last year's side.

Sova said White was an important signing, alongside former Auckland City midfielder Jason Hayne.

"Whitey's been really good for Miramar, he's been basically their best player," Sova said.

"In terms of a player it's a good signing because he's an attacking midfielder and that's what we need."

Former midfield rock Raf de Gregorio, who lives in Wellington, is absent from this year's squad, as Sova has gone for players who are domiciled in Manawatu.

North End's Willie Hodge and Levin's Nathan Morath return to the squad, while there is a young feel to the team with the mandatory five academy players named.

Palmerston North Boys' High School striker Dale Higham has big wraps on him and could feature in the senior side regularly.

The battle for the goalkeeping gloves is an open field because although North End's Matt Borren and Marist custodian Nick Hayward have been named there are four others who are still trialing with the squad.

Auckland keeper Ross Nicholson hasn't returned after a solid campaign for YoungHeart last season.

YoungHeart were to host Team Wellington in a pre-season match at Memorial Park at 1pm today.

"I'm putting a lot of the youth players out," Sova said of his line-up.

YoungHeart open their ASB Premiership season proper on November 7 against Hawke's Bay in Palmerston North.

Manawatu Standard