New signing hurts Boyd's hopes
The signing of Belgian striker Stein Huysegems may have dealt a big blow to Waikato teenager Tyler Boyd landing a full contract with the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert had pledged during the off-season that the club would sign an overseas striker to bolster their front line, but it seemed unlikely until the former international was announced last Friday.
The addition of Huysegems, to join Paul Ifill, Benjamin Totori and Jeremy Brockie as striking options means Herbert may opt to bypass Boyd – who has been a standout in pre-season matches since joining the club’s ‘‘school of excellence’’ in June – in favour of midfielder Louis Fenton and defender Luke Rowe to strengthen other areas.
The 30-year-old Huysegems, who has played in the top Belgian and Dutch leagues with Lierse, Feyenoord, Twente, Roda JC and Racing Genk, likes to play as on the left-hand side of the attack like Boyd.
However, an injury to Paul Ifill may yet work in Boyd’s favour as the A-League club draws close to naming their two under-21 players who will be part of the first team squad this season.
Ifill injured his right leg during last Tuesday's pre-season game against Petone and scans revealed a small tear in his knee's medial collateral ligament. The talismanic attacker is now in a race to be fit for the mouthwatering A-League season opener against Sydney FC and Alessandro Del Piero at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on October 6, meaning Herbert’s decision is not an easy one.
Boyd and Fenton were standouts on the club’s pre-season tour of Australia and India, with assistant coach and former Phoenix striker Chris Greenacre describing the former Melville United and Waikato FC striker as a ‘‘natural goalscorer’’.
‘‘He's got a quick turn of pace, he's quite strong, he can link play as well and bring players into the game. And his attitude has been a different class,’’ Greenacre said.