Stein Huysegems made a predictably rusty debut as the Phoenix beat a Wellington selection 5-0 in a training game at Porirua Park last night.
The former Belgium international striker, who arrived in Wellington on Thursday, has not played a competitive game since May - and it showed as he failed to capitalise on several good chances.
But the 30-year-old also showed some flashes of his impressive pedigree, with some intelligent runs and one classy backheel.
Huysegems was subbed off at halftime, with Jeremy Brockie (two), Louis Fenton, Tyler Boyd and Alex Smith the goalscorers.
“First 45 minutes for four months so glad to play some minutes and it felt good to play my first 45 minutes for the Wellington Phoenix,” Huysegems said.
“It's such a long time so it's nice to play again, know the boys and the boys know me, how I play and that's good, that they can see how I play.
"That's important and there's still two more games to play before the season starts so that's good. Maybe we save the goals for the season.”
Huysegems has had just one training with his new club, after signing a two-year deal last week.
The Phoenix continue their pre-season preparations against A-League newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers in Christchurch on Sunday.
Their season opener is against Alessandro Del Piero and Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on October 6.
Huysegems, who has played his club football in the Netherlands and Belgium, warned fans not to expect too much too soon.
“Only one training so we have to learn each other, that's normal when a new player comes. See how I play, how I move and it's a little bit difficult in the beginning and we still have time to figure that out. But, the two seasons that I'm signed for Wellington, I hope to play a lot of games and to also score a lot of goals. That's the meaning of playing here.”
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert declared himself happy with Huysegems' first hitout - “some good touches and movement” - and said he would start against the Wanderers.
The Phoenix have their final pre-season game against Manawatu in Palmerston North on September 29.
“The next couple of weeks will be good for him,” Herbert said. “But some nice touches, some good timing of things into the box and I think he'll build nicely coming into the season.”
There was also positive news on Paul Ifill's knee injury.
“Paul's running, which is a huge step forward from what we thought he might do. I don't want to put a mocker on it but I think he's a chance for the opener.”
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