Drawn out Michael McGlinchey wait continues

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014
Ernie Merrick
Getty Images
STILL WAIITING: Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick still doesn't know if Michael McGlinchey is his player.

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Ernie Merrick continues the interminable wait to see if Michael McGlinchey is his player.

In the meantime, the Wellington Phoenix coach is also lobbying Football Federation Australia to change their rules and allow a squad upsize.

Unlike the nine Australian A-League clubs, the Phoenix do not have a national youth league team.

They hope to overcome that disadvantage with the presence of a reserve team in New Zealand's national league next season, and Merrick is now looking to level the playing field in another area.

''Every other club in the league is allowed to sign 26 players, 23 plus three designated youth-league players,'' Merrick said.

''We hope to instigate that. The Phoenix have never been able to sign those ''plus three'' players, as they're known. We hope to have that option, and if I have that option it would free up a spot or two for us, if we dropped a couple of younger boys down.''

The Phoenix now have 22 A-League players on the books.

If an independent arbitrator rules in his favour, McGlinchey will make 23.

''I believe there is arbitration going to occur next week and we'll see what the outcome of that is. I've been told that they'll make a decision over the next couple of years,'' said a laughing Merrick.

New Dutch signing Roly Bonevacia is due in about two weeks, while Vince Lia will miss the club's FFA Cup debut against Adelaide United on Tuesday with a minor calf niggle.

Merrick is pleased with the competition developing within his squad.

''Anyone that thinks you only sign 11 good players - it doesn't work that way. You get injuries, you get suspensions, you want competition all over the ground.

"To have more midfielders is ideal, and I don't intend, at this moment, to sign any players for the next four to six weeks. I want to see how it develops, and see if there's any other positions that we need.

"But I'm pretty happy with the squad we've got - in fact I'm very happy with the squad we've got.''

A 16-man Phoenix squad minus A-League All-Stars Albert Riera and Manny Muscat will fly to Adelaide tomorrow to prepare for their debut in the knockout competition.

Fenton - who Merrick converted into a right back last season before he was injured - will again start in midfield but the coach was keeping an open mind as to his best long-term position.

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- The Dominion Post

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