Key trio recommits to Phoenix

NEW ZEALAND World Cup hero Mark Paston has extended his Wellington Phoenix contract and will stay on with the capital club till the end of the Hyundai A-League 20010/11 season.

NEW ZEALAND World Cup hero Mark Paston has extended his Wellington Phoenix contract and will stay on with the capital club till the end of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.

The big goalkeeper, currently out for the Phoenix with a broken leg, joins fellow custodian Reece Crowther and talented utility Troy Hearfield in agreeing to stay on in Wellington for another year beyond this season.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the contract extensions of Paston, Crowther and Hearfield were great for the club.

“We-re delighted Mark, Reece and Troy have agreed to stay at the Phoenix. It-s all about the club continuing to grow and having stability leading into next season.”

Before his injury, Paston had been one of the standout performers for the Phoenix, with Crowther, 20, continuing to make great strides as Paston-s deputy. Hearfield has been one of the stars for the Phoenix in recent times, making the fullback-s position his own despite being more accustomed to playing in the midfield.

The Phoenix have now re-signed a significant core of the current squad for next season, which will allow the club to focus its efforts on bringing new talent to Wellington next season.

“It will make it easier for us to go out and look for key personnel at the end of this season,” said Pignata. “We-ll assess what we require and make some decisions accordingly, but the key thing is that we already have the core of the squad locked away.”

As well as Paston, Crowther and Hearfield, confirmed squad members for next season are skipper Andrew Durante, New Zealand internationals Leo Bertos, Tim Brown, Ben Sigmund and Tony Lochhead, Daniel Cortes, Diego Walsh, Marco Rojas, Maltese international Manny Muscat, Vince Lia and gun British strikers Chris Greenacre and Paul Ifill.

Pignata said the club was still in talks with former Socceroos centreback Jon McKain, while there would also be discussions with the club-s two newest recruits - striker Eugene Dadi and keeper Liam Reddy.

“Jon wanted some time to get back into the squad after coming back from injury. We-ve tabled an offer that we-re currently discussing and we hope to have something confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

“We-ve had initial discussions with Eugene and Liam to get a gauge of what their intentions are and those discussions will continue. Both have fitted in superbly and added a lot of depth to the squad, so there is plenty to talk about with them.”