Phoenix youngsters impress in Sydney friendly

www.stuff.co.nz | Alex Rufer earned the plaudits but an impressive contribution to the Wellington Phoenix's A-League preparations in Sydney last night won't alter Ernie Merrick's preferred midfield combination

Alex Rufer earned the plaudits but an impressive contribution to the Wellington Phoenix's A-League preparations in Sydney last night won't alter Ernie Merrick's preferred midfield combination.

The 18-year-old midfielder and fellow teenager Matthew Ridenton were standout performers among a reserve team lineup that settled for a 1-1 draw against Sydney United after taking a second-minute lead through Jason Hicks.

Rufer, who made his Phoenix debut in the dying stages of last season at Newcastle, will again find himself on the periphery - barring injury - when the Phoenix open their 2014-15 campaign against Perth Glory in Wellington on October 12.

Merrick and his assistant Chris Greenacre heaped praise on Rufer - and Ridenton, who made 13 appearances last season when injuries saw the 18-year-old's progression fast-tracked.

"The two of them ran the show for our team," said Merrick.

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