Phoenix turn to Fijian flier to fill Paul Ifill gap

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2014
Roy Krishna
MARTIN HUNTER/Photosport.co.nz
WELLINGTON BOUND: Auckland City striker Roy Krishna is poised to become the first Fijian to play in the A-League after joining the Phoenix.

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Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says speedy Fijian recruit Roy Krishna will bring a "different dimension" to his A-League side.

Merrick has already unearthed one gem from Auckland City this season, with impressive Spanish midfielder Albert Riera proving a savvy addition.

Now he hopes he has landed another; with Krishna yesterday signing on for the remainder of the season as an injury replacement for Paul Ifill.

The 26-year-old striker will start training with the Phoenix today and if he takes the field will become the first Fijian to play in the A-League.

"He's very pacy, technically very sound, a good dribbler and he's got an eye for goal. Now we see if he can do what Albert Riera has done and adjust to the A-League. I think he can," Merrick said.

"He's similar in style to Tyler Boyd but with more experience and he's been scoring goals. He does bring a different dimension and that pace is a big positive."

Krishna has scored 14 goals in 22 appearances for Fiji, and at former club Waitakere United he netted 72 times in 103 games.

His arrival puts some extra heat on Jeremy Brockie, who has just two goals this season.

But Merrick said Krishna was unlikely to feature in Sunday's game against defending champions Central Coast at Westpac Stadium.

Krishna trialled unsuccessfully with the Phoenix in 2009 but, along with Riera, caught Merrick's eye in City's 1-0 pre-season win at Kiwitea Street.

"I've always dreamt of playing in the A-League for the Wellington Phoenix," Krishna said.

"I can't wait to get to Wellington and start working with the team. I love scoring goals and my goal is to get in the team and do just that. I am up for the challenge."

Merrick has also signed 23-year-old Australian striker Milos Lujic on a two-week contract as a replacement for Reece Caira, who is in Oman with the Australian under-22 squad.

With 19 goals, Lujic was the Victorian Premier League golden boot winner with champions Northcote City last season. He scored two goals in the grand final.

"Milos was part of the Victory youth team when I was there," Merrick said.

"There's so many good players on our doorstep and you don't have to always look to Europe."

Merrick said Lujic had the opportunity to extend his contract if he did well at training.

The ninth-placed Phoenix still have one squad spot to fill and can also replace the injured Louis Fenton for the remainder of the season.

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Playmaker Carlos Hernandez (wrist), who missed the impressive 3-1 win in Western Sydney, has trained well this week and is expected to be available for selection on Sunday.

Meanwhile, some fringe and aspiring Phoenix players will gain much needed gametime when the club's A team plays its first match of the season against national league leaders Waitakere in Auckland tonight.

Contracted players Lewis Italiano, Josh Brindell-South, Luke Adams, Alex Rufer and Jason Hicks are in the starting lineup, along with young hopefuls Tobias Bertsch, Tamupiwa Dimairo, Clayton Lewis, Andrew Blake, Joel Stevens and Jamie de Abreu.

"Those guys have all got the potential to have long careers in the game," said Phoenix A coach Chris Greenacre.

"But it's important that we get those young players playing the way we do in the first team, so when the opportunity arises they just step into the role."

- The Dominion Post

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