Soccer: Phoenix a possibility for Elliott

By Michael Brown

A fortnight ago, it looked as if there was no chance Simon Elliott would join the Wellington Phoenix but that scenario is possible again since the two parties met about Elliott taking up a short-term contract.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert discussed the possibility with Elliott while in camp with the All Whites, although no offer has yet been forthcoming. The 36-year-old midfielder has been without a club since he was cut by MLS outfit San Jose in March.

He had offers in Europe after a series of impressive displays for the All Whites at the World Cup but turned them down and still holds hopes of resurrecting his MLS career next season. He lives in Los Angeles with his American fiancee, who is studying to be a doctor.

Elliott was led to believe Wellington were interested in him after the World Cup to take up a guest contract - about 10 games - but found little interest when he explored it further.

It seems, however, Wellington are now considering that option seriously. The biggest thing they need to work out is if they can afford it and whether Elliott can make a real difference so they get a return on their investment.

Herbert is likely to meet owner Terry Serepisos this week to go through the practicalities.

The club employed Brazilian player Fred on a short-term contract two years ago but he played only three games before a family bereavement.

"Some discussions have taken place with Simon, which has been important, and we will see where that gets to," Herbert said.

Elliott said he would seriously consider the idea of returning to play in the city where he grew up.

"I'm currently without a club, as everyone knows, but if they were to come forward with something then I would certainly be open to looking at it."

One thing that might work against him is an increasingly congested central midfield. The club has added Australian Nick Ward to their squad, and he has been impressive in the short time he has been with the Phoenix. Herbert also has Tim Brown, Vince Lia, Roberto Cornejo and Manny Muscat at his disposal.

But Herbert is also keen to revert to a 3-4-3 formation, the same system he employs for New Zealand, and Elliott is comfortable with that set-up. Herbert was even considering fielding a 3-4-3 against the Melbourne Heart today, to see if it worked.

Elliott is also a popular member of the All Whites and might help attract more fans to the Cake Tin, especially as he is a Wellingtonian, and one of only five New Zealanders to play in the English Premier League.

- NZ Herald

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