Midfield looking All White with Cole Peverley
Canterbury United are set to field two All Whites in central midfield, with Cole Peverley joining Aaron Clapham for the coming national football premiership campaign.
Peverley – a one-cap All White who was on standby for last year's World Cup finals squad – confirmed yesterday he had signed for Canterbury after a stint in the United States' second-tier professional league.
"I've decided to come down because I think Canterbury is the only team that can push Auckland and Waitakere to win the league."
Peverley, 23, is looking forward to playing alongside Clapham and will also link with close friend Darren White, the Canterbury Dragons' new signing from English non-league club Frome Town.
"I used to go to school with him [in Auckland] and, when I went to Germany to play for Hansa Rostock, I got him over there. He's a good player and should do well for us on the right wing."
Peverley played in the premiership last year for Hawke's Bay United and then signed for the Charleston Battery in the United States League (USL) – one division below America's Major League Soccer (MLS) championship.
He suffered "a badly broken ankle six games into the season" but came back for the final eight, making a total of 19 appearances, with 14 starts.
"I was pretty much on holiday from America and wasn't going to play, but I always want to play so I thought I'd come down to Canterbury and try and win it."
Peverley will remain living in Wellington where he works for the Ole Football Academy and will commute to Canterbury's matches. He hopes to return to Charleston next season and says the USL is "a similar standard to the A-League". His goal is to win a MLS contract and stake a claim for a regular place in the All Whites.
He was New Zealand's player of the tournament at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and made his All Whites debut later that year against Fiji. He went to the World Cup on standby for the injured Tim Brown but did not play and was on the bench for the domestic internationals against Honduras and Paraguay – when new clubmate Clapham made his All Whites' bow.
"I want to be playing in the next World Cup," he said.
Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite said Peverley would "give a bit more steel to our midfield".
"He's another good option in a holding midfield role. He's a very good passer of the ball."
Braithwaite hopes Clapham will "put pen to paper" this week and commit to a third season with Canterbury United. He is looking forward to the two All Whites striking up a fruitful partnership in the Dragons' engine room.
Peverley is Canterbury's third major signing after White and Victoria state league striker George Slefendorfas. Another English import, a midfielder with more than 250 games in the upper echelons of the English non-league system, was due to join but tore a calf muscle before departure.
"I've told him to stay there and get his leg right and we can have a look at him in a month's time," Braithwaite said.
Canterbury United have named nine new players in their 2011-12 squad, including Mainland footballer of the year Adam Highfield, the former Otago United goalkeeper, and defender Julyan Collett, player of the year at Bay Olympic, the northern premier league champions. The new recruits will help offset the retirements of former All Whites Gareth Rowe and Glen Collins.
Braithwaite believes Canterbury have "more depth this year with two players competing for every position" and he said signing White and Slefendorfas would provide far more support for regular frontrunner Russell Kamo.
The Dragons' five mandatory academy (youth) players include under-17 World Cup representatives Ken Yamamoto and Calvin Opperman.
Captain Dan Terris could be struggling to be fit for the season opener against Youngheart Manawatu on Sunday. Braithwaite said Terris was one of three defenders troubled by hamstring injuries.
UNITED THEY STAND
Senior squad for 2011-12 Goalkeepers: Tom Batty, Adam Highfield (formerly Otago United). Defenders: Dan Terris (c), Nick Wortelboer, Tom Schwarz, Mark Johnston (Nelson Suburbs), Paul Dirou, Julyan Collett (Bay Olympic, Auckland). Midfielders: Aaron Clapham, Cole Peverley (Hawke's Bay United/Charleston Battery, USA), Joe Murray, Geoff MacIntyre (Ferrymead Bays), Matt Thomas (Coastal Spirit), Josh Smith (Woolston Technical), Andy Barton. Strikers: George Slefendorfas (Sunshine George Cross, Melbourne), Russell Kamo, Darren White (Frome Town, UK). Two places to be filled. Academy Players: Calvin Opperman, Ken Yamamoto, Erik Panzer, Eddie Ashton, Te Atawahi Hudson-Wihongi.