Phoenix coach see positives of contract dispute

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014
IN LIMBO: All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey, right, hopes to play for the Wellington Phoenix and coach Ernie Merrick, left, next season.
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IN LIMBO: All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey, right, hopes to play for the Wellington Phoenix and coach Ernie Merrick, left, next season.

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Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick does not believe the Michael McGlinchey tug-of-war is a distraction for his A-League side.

The All Whites midfielder's club future remains unclear as both the Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners argue that they have the 27-year-old under contract.

McGlinchey wants to play for the Phoenix and Professional Footballers Australia are backing him, writing to Football Federation Australia seeking confirmation that he will be registered with his hometown club.

FFA have admitted that the dispute may need to go to independent arbitration.

''It's not a distraction at all,'' Merrick said.

''We're not doing anything that we wouldn't do normally and this is the nature of football. The good thing is when you have distractions involving quality players, you're doing something right regarding creating interest in the game.

"I'm not saying we're using this to create interest, all I'm saying is there are high-quality players keen on coming to the Wellington Phoenix. Nathan Burns is one, Alex Gorrin is another and now Michael McGlinchey wants to play for us. We're attracting very good players to this club.''

McGlinchey started training with the Phoenix on Monday but did not take the pitch for the pre-season wins over Upper Hutt City on Tuesday and Petone on Wednesday.

The Phoenix's next game is against Wellington Olympic on Tuesday but Merrick said it was uncertain when McGlinchey would make his debut.

''He's training with us, he's in this limbo situation,'' Merrick said.

''We'll train him as we would train and play normally and if he's ready to have a practice game, he'll have it. But albeit it will only be if we feel he's ready and for a short period of time.''

Merrick said the Phoenix had contingency plans should McGlinchey not be allowed to join the club.

''There's always a plan B, C, D and E. I'm talking to agents, players and looking at the free-player landscape all the time.''

Meanwhile, Team Wellington defender Tom Doyle is in line for a spot in the Phoenix squad to play against West Ham United and Newcastle United this month.

''There's a very good chance that Doyle will be involved in the Football United Tour as one of the squad members,'' Merrick said.

''Doyle has been playing and training extremely well as an attacking left back. We've played three practice games and haven't conceded a goal. We've won 5-0, 4-0 and 3-0 and Doyle has definitely been a bit of a standout. Having said that, he still has to improve to get a contract.''

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Hamilton teenager Waikato Ball - who scored in the win over Petone - was a chance to make the Phoenix reserve team should the club gain entry into the national league.

''He did well, he's technically good, he's a good lad,'' Merrick said.

''He struggled with the pace of the game, which is understandable because he hasn't really played senior football. When we have trials - should we manage to secure an ASB team - he will certainly be invited back down here.''

The Phoenix have also confirmed a pre-season game against New Zealand A in Taupo on August 17.

- The Dominion Post

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