Wellington Phoenix U-20 will have improvement on the agenda ahead of their Round 2 Stirling Sports Premiership match against city rivals Team Wellington at David Farrington Park on Sunday.
Head Coach Andy Hedge was adamant that his young side’s performance on the pitch can go up another notch following a narrow opening round defeat against Eastern Suburbs.
“Obviously from last week, we are looking for an improvement on the performance in particular,” Hedge said.
“We’ve got a lot of young players and I thought last week we felt we should have got a little bit more, or could have played better.
“When you reflect back afterwards and we see that we have got two 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old in the midfield, it’s actually a good performance from that standpoint.”
Hedge believes that the similarities in style between the U-20 squad and Ernie Merrick’s Hyundai A-League squad can only be of benefit as he aims for an improved performance in Sunday’s match.
“This week will be similar in terms of having some young lads and obviously some older boys coming in,” the coach remarked.
“The continuity between myself and Ernie’s squad in the A-League is pretty strong, so there shouldn’t be too many question marks about the players.”
The Nix U-20 boss is expecting another positive test against a Team Wellington outfit that suffered a disappointing 4-0 loss to Auckland City in Round 1.
“I’m really looking for a bit more of a complete performance,” Hedge said.
“Team Wellington, as reigning champions will be looking to prove their coach worthy of a championship performance, especially after last week’s result as well.
“They [Team Wellington] have added well over the off-season and we will be tested not only from a physical standpoint with the strength and size they bring, but also the guile that they bring to their game.
“For our younger boys especially it’s a great test because they don’t often get to play against that quality of player, especially over the winter season, so it’s going to be huge ask for them to compete but it will be great for their development.
In team news, Phoenix U-20 plan a welcome return from suspension for Liam Wood in the heart of defence.
“He [Wood] was a bit disappointed that he was missing last week and he has been training really well with the first team for the last few months so it will be good to see how he goes at this level,” Hedge said.
“This will be his third season in this setup as a veteran 18-year-old and he will be leading the team this week as well.”
Stirling Sports Premiership – Round 2
Sunday, 30 October 2016
Team Wellington v Wellington Phoenix U-20
David Farrington Park, Miramar
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #TWvWP
Wellington Phoenix U-20: 1. Keegan SMITH (GK), 5. Ryan LOWRY, 6. Dylan FOX, 24. Logan ROGERSON, 26. Jack-Henry SINCLAIR, 27. Joe BELL, 28. Max MATA, 29. Liam WOOD, 30. Oliver SAIL (GK), 32. Jake WILLIAMS, 36. Oliver WHYTE, 37. Liberato CACACE, 38. Ruairi CAHILL-FLEURY, 40. Luke JOHNSON, 41. Willem EBBINGE, 42. Luke TONGUE