Phoenix heading North after transfer coup
Wellington Phoenix have secured a recruitment coup ahead of the A-League season by attracting Socceroos defender Jade North to the club on a one-year deal.
North won the A-League championship while paired with Phoenix captain Andrew Durante in the heart of the Newcastle Jets defence in the 2007-08 season. He moved to Norwegian club Tromso last season to improve his chances of selection in Pim Verbeek's World Cup squad, which he narrowly missed out on, but now his switch to Wellington makes the Phoenix a genuine title threat this year.
North, 28, has been capped 28 times for his country and will more than fill the void of departed centre back Jon McKain, who is trying his luck in Saudi Arabia. Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert was delighted to have North onboard.
"Jade's a proven performer at elite level, with almost 100 appearances in the Hyundai A-League. He was outstanding for the Jets alongside Dura when they won the title a couple of seasons back and he'll fit in really well with the group we have here. Not only does he have a wealth of experience but he also brings significant leadership qualities to the club, having captained the Jets, and he's a great replacement for Jon McKain."
North's signing brings the Phoenix roster up the minimum required 20 players. Herbert may add Bamban prolific Indonesian striker Bambang Pamungkas to his squad if a trial goes well ahead of the A-League kick-off next Thursday. Phoenix have a bye in the first round.
Herbret said: "We're fortunate in that we've retained the core of the squad from last season's great campaign and that we've been able to add some real talent and quality in key areas of the pitch from front the back. There's plenty of cause for optimism about our chances this season and we're looking forward to getting things under way."
Phoenix chairman Terry Serepisos said the recruitment of North had the potential to elevate the club from their fourth place on the ladder last season to a top two side.
"We took our time in terms of recruitment to make sure we got the right people for the right jobs. In Jade we're delighted to have a defender of such calibre and a player who has proven himself as a professional footballer. I'm extremely happy with how our squad has come together and the additions we've brought to the club will definitely make significant contributions this season."