Canterbury United has signed former New Zealand Knights footballer Sam Jasper and has handed the captaincy to Scottish midfielder Stuart Kelly.
Jasper a New Zealand A representative last season has moved from Auckland club Waitakere United. He was an apprentice at the New Zealand Knights in the inaugural A-League season, and has played in national age-group teams.
Coach Danny Halligan said Jasper was "a very good player" who would bolster the Canterbury United Dragons midfield.
Jasper shared in Waitakere's 1-0 win over Fijian champion Ba United in last season's inaugural O-League Oceania club championship final.
Halligan said the 21-year-old approached Canterbury in the off-season because he wanted to move to Christchurch.
Jasper's partner is the sister of Canterbury United squad member Gareth Turnbull.
"We were very keen to get him, but then Team Wellington approached him and enticed him to Wellington. But after a few weeks there, he decided he wanted to come to us."
Jasper made two A-League appearances for the New Zealand Knights in 2005-06. He played 15 matches for Waitakere after a short stint with Auckland City. He is in line to make his Canterbury debut in Sunday's New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) campaign opener against Hawkes Bay United at English Park.
Kelly will return tomorrow from a three-week visit to Glasgow to lead Canterbury.
He will take over the captain's armband from defender Daniel Terris, who has returned home to England to be with a sick family member.
Halligan is hoping Terris will return to NZFC duty.
However, he said Kelly would be captain for the entire season, with experienced midfielder-defender Andy Pitman as vice-captain.
"Stuart is a senior player, who's well established at this level and well-respected," Halligan said.
"He will be arriving home on Friday, but he's been training in Scotland, so he's fit and he'll be ready to go on Sunday."
Meanwhile, an injury cloud hovers over Canterbury's new striker, Dave Walker.
Halligan said the Englishman suffered a groin strain a fortnight ago and missed last weekend's practice match.
A decision on his fitness will be made later in the week.
. Right-back Glenn Squire resumed training on Tuesday after a groin injury.
However, Halligan said he may not be able to play for another three weeks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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