Bertos, Huysegems get released by the Phoenix

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 13:52 13/04/2014

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Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has wasted no time in reshaping his underperforming squad for next season, with off-contract duo Leo Bertos and Stein Huysegems both leaving the club.

Bertos, 32, made 127 appearances for his hometown Phoenix since signing in 2008 but has struggled with injury and form of late.

"Leo is a Wellington, Phoenix and New Zealand footballing legend," Merrick said.

"His injuries prevented him playing his best football while I've been here, but I know what he is capable of from when he has played against my team in the A-League both for Wellington and Perth. I'm sure he will remain part of the All Whites set-up and whatever eventuates in the next couple of years it would be great to see him back at the Phoenix in some capacity."

Huysegems, 31, was the Phoenix's leading goalscorer this season with 10.

The Phoenix wanted to retain the former Belgium international but were only willing to offer him a one-year extension.

Huysegems wanted two more years and has attracted interest from other A-League clubs.

Merrick described Huysegems as "probably the most professional footballer I have worked with.''

"It is sad to see him go but that is the nature of football. I know Stein will be a very competitive player wherever he ends up and if we have to face him I expect him to give us a tough time. He has been a pleasure to work with and I'm sure he will continue to score goals wherever he goes, just hopefully not against us."

The Phoenix finished ninth of 10 teams after losing 4-1 to Melbourne Victory in Wellington last night.

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