Dragons bringing home the bacon

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013

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Canterbury United could field English striker Chris Bacon in tomorrow's crunch national league clash with Team Wellington but coach Keith Braithwaite now faces a selectorial juggling act.

Bacon, a prolific scorer at English non-league level with East Anglian clubs Wisbech Town and Cambridge City, received his international clearance this week.

He becomes the sixth guest player - or recent overseas import - on Canterbury's books and therein lies a conundrum. New Zealand premiership rules decree only four guest players can be named in a matchday squad.

Bacon will be vying for game time with first-year defenders Danny Boys and Dan Schwarz, midfielder Steve Morrison and strikers Federico Marquez and Luke Marsland.

But Braithwaite confirmed he would look to get Bacon involved this weekend.

''He looks a good player; he's got a good physique and he's got a good touch and control, he sees things well and he knows where the back of the net is. He can play up high as a number nine or he can play off the striker as a Noth10.''

Bacon, 29, scored almost 70 goals in two seasons with Wisbech Town before a short-term move to English southern league premier division club Cambridge City ntsGearliernte this year.

Braithwaite said Bacon went to Australia for a while before moving on to New Zealand.

''He knows [former Nelson Suburbs player and coach] Joe Green, who told him 'if you ever go to New Zealand you've got to have a look at Canterbury United, Hawke's Bay United or Wellington.

''He went to Wellington and trained with them, but they had already signed a striker from England. I got a call from [Nelson Suburbs player-coach] Ben Wright to say the boy was in the country and were we still looking for a player.''

Braithwaite contacted Bacon, who came to Christchurch immediately and impressed at training. He is a bricklayer with experience working on heritage projects and has already got a job in Christchurch. He is living with Canterbury United's twin centrebacks Tom and Dan Schwarz.

Bacon will bolster a Canterbury attack led by Marquez and joint top-scorer Russell Kamo. Braithwaite said he had more good news next week with Coastal Spirit striker Ash Wellbourn cleared to resume training soon after a leg injury and potentially play in the New Year.

Braithwaite knows Canterbury's attack will have to be at their best to crack a Wellington defence marshalled by ex-All Whites Cole Peverley and James Musa and World Cup squad goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley.

The Dragons have kept two successive clean sheets and broke their wins drought with a 3-0 victory over Southern United last weekend.

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Canterbury centreback Julyan Collett is suspended but captain Dan Terris returns from overseas to plug the gap.

SQUADS

Canterbury United: Adam Highfield, Pieter Bierma, Pablo Moya, Dan Terris (c), Tom Schwarz, Danny Boys, Kris O'Neill, Steve Morrison, Aaron Clapham, Stu Kelly, Chris Murphy, Cory Mitchell, Shawn O'Brien, Ken Yamamoto, Federico Marquez, Russell Kamo, Chris Bacon.

Team Wellington: Jacob Spoonley (c), Daniel Clarke, Colin Murphy, Adam Cowan, James Musa, Cole Peverley, Cory Chettleburgh, Charlie Henry, Roy Kayara, Cam Lindsay, Henry Fa'arodo, Sam Mason-Smith, Jamie de Abreu, Tom Doyle, Justin Gulley, Hamish Watson, Joel Stevens.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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