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Wellington Phoenix hope to keep Huysegems

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014
Stein Huysegems
TOY FEDER/ Getty

KEEN TO KEEP HIM: Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick wants to retain sharpshooter Stein Huysegems.

Stein Huysegems
Getty Images
OVERJOYED: Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie celebrate another goal in the Phoenix 4-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.

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The Wellington Phoenix remain hopeful of retaining leading goalscorer Stein Huysegems next season, despite a report claiming the Belgian striker was ''poised to quit'' the A-League club.

The 31-year-old is off contract at the end of the season, but he and his family are happily settled in Wellington.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is keen to keep Huysegems, who has 10 goals to his name, in Wellington, but talks have stalled over money.

Australian football website The World Game quoted Huysegems' Melbourne agent, Dragan Jetvic, as saying the Phoenix's offer of a one-year extension did not ''meet his expectations''.

''It would be a shame to see Stein go, because his performances and goalscoring prowess have helped lift the level of the competition this season,'' Jetvic said.

''He has 16 caps for his country and offers a degree of pedigree which has been there for all to see. But, in terms of negotiations, it's not looking too promising at the moment.''

But a Phoenix spokesman said negotiations with Huysegems were ongoing, and the club was disappointed by Jetvic's comments.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix have re-signed midfielder Vince Lia for another two years.

The 28-year-old joined the Phoenix at their inception in 2007, and is the only foundation player remaining at the club.

''It is nice to have that security at this stage of my career,'' Lia said.

''I really wanted to stay here because I think the club is going in the right direction. There is a good feel about the place with young Kiwi boys coming through, and Ernie has done a fine job in identifying the young talent we now have.''

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- The Dominion Post

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