Phoenix pull pin on Porter

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC’s bid to sign striker Joel Porter from Hartlepool is officially over, with the English club refusing to allow the Australian to opt out of a one-year extension to his contract.

WELLINGTON Phoenix FC-s bid to sign striker Joel Porter from Hartlepool is officially over, with the English club refusing to allow the Australian to opt out of a one-year extension to his contract.

The Phoenix had been keen to sign the talented former Socceroo after he became off-contract at Hartlepool. However, Hartlepool exercised an unusual option in Porter-s deal to secure the striker-s services for another season at Victoria Park.

While Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata was disappointed to have missed out on bringing Porter to the Hyundai A-League he said the club could now step up efforts to lock in some other promising leads.

“Joel-s a quality striker and would have fitted in well with the squad. But the situation had really gone on for a lot longer than we were comfortable with and we made the decision to move on.

“We have been looking at our options with regards to strikers during talks with Joel and Hartlepool and getting him to sign on as well would have been a huge bonus. But his chairman at Hartlepool has stated Joel will remain in England and the contract is watertight, so there-s nothing more that we can do except press on with the leads we have.”

The Phoenix are seeking a proven scorer to complement season one star Shane Smeltz.

“Things are looking good. We-re hoping to finalise things in the next few weeks and it-s going to take a bit of patience. Rest assured that whoever we do sign will bring an element to the club that we require.”

While Porter is off the radar for the Phoenix this season, Pignata said the door would be left ajar for the Aussie to link with the Wellington club when his contract at Hartlepool ends.

“We identified Joel as a player we wanted and he really wanted to come to Wellington. I can say that-s he-s gutted. He had made his mind up to come and play in the Hyundai A-League and his family was keen to come too, but unfortunately we couldn-t swing it.

“I-m sure he-ll have another successful season with Hartlepool and if he-s available next year - and he wants to come - we-ll look at it.”