Merrick makes first signing as Phoenix coach

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 17:00 18/06/2013
Lewis Italiano
Getty Images
NEW SIGNING: Lewis Italiano has joined the Wellington Phoenix.

Relevant offers

Football

NZ Football calls on fans to 'white out' stadiums for World Cup games Fifa ramps up security measures to stop corruption at U-20 World Cup Football Ferns relish opportunity in warm-up match against world champions Japan Jose Mourinho regrets saying there was a 'campaign' against Chelsea Leon Birnie to lead women's Under-20s football side Playoffs to procede at Wembley as old WWII bomb defused Raheem Sterling will see out Liverpool contract - Brendan Rodgers Fifa U-20 World Cup to provide long lasting benefits to football in New Zealand Uruguay train at Hibiscus Coast ahead of Under-20 Fifa World Cup Pressure mounts on Junior All Whites ahead of Fifa u-20 World Cup in New Zealand

Ernie Merrick has made his first signing as Wellington Phoenix coach, luring former Perth Glory backup goalkeeper Lewis Italiano across the Tasman.

Italiano was released by Perth in April but has starred for the Oakleigh Cannons in the Victorian Premier League.

Merrick's spies rated Italiano as the best shot-stopper in the VPL, and Phoenix goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould is familiar with the young Australian from his time in Perth and regards his big frame and attitude as good attributes.

Despite that, Italiano, stuck behind Danny Vukovic at Perth, will almost certainly start the 2013-14 A-League as the No 2 behind All White Glen Moss.

The experienced Moss is fit again after injury, and the now-retired Mark Paston limited him to just four appearances in the 2012-13 season.

The signing of Italiano may upset some in the New Zealand football community, with national under-20s representative Scott Basalaj and Auckland City's Jacob Spoonley worthy of consideration for contracts.

The Phoenix squad now numbers 15 after Merrick released Tony Lochhead, Alex Smith, Dani Sanchez, Benjamin Totori, Jimmy Downey and Lucas Pantelis last week.

Merrick has identified a top-quality striker and a key midfielder as crucial to his recruitment plans, with young Kiwi left backs Ian Hogg and Luke Rowe to be given opportunities to impress in training.

Star signing Carlos Hernandez, who agreed to terms under previous coach Ricki Herbert, was due to arrive in Wellington tomorrow, but his arrival has been delayed because of visa difficulties. bert - was due to arrive in Wellington tomorrow but his arrival has been delayed due to visa difficulties.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content