Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Soccer: Phoenix sign Queensland 20-year-old

Ernie Merrick added another young recruit to his Wellington Phoenix roster today with the signing of Queenslander Josh Brindell-South on a one-year contract. Photo / Getty Images.
Ernie Merrick added another young recruit to his Wellington Phoenix roster today with the signing of Queenslander Josh Brindell-South on a one-year contract. Photo / Getty Images.

Ernie Merrick added another young recruit to his Wellington Phoenix roster today with the signing of Queenslander Josh Brindell-South on a one-year contract.

Brindell-South, 20, becomes the seventh player aged 20 or under in the Phoenix squad and the fullback is still coming to terms with the fact he is starting a professional career.

That feeling is understandable given his potential Phoenix career was almost over before it had started when he was injured during his third day on trial at the club.

A slight groin strain, that he kept from the club on arrival because he didn't want to dent his chances of securing a contract, was made worse by his efforts to impress.

Head coach Ernie Merrick had seen enough however to think Brindell-South was worth waiting for and allowed the young Aussie to rehabilitate with the club.

"That [groin injury] was one of the lowest parts of my life so far,'' said Brindell-South, who played for Moreton Bay United last season in Australia's National Premier League.

"It really got me down thinking it might mean me missing out. I was on the phone to my mum and dad all the time because I felt so bad.

"It has been the longest six weeks of my life and to have this outcome is fantastic.

"Hopefully I can repay Ernie for the faith he has shown in me.''

Merrick is confident that the youngster can do the job he has been recruited for.

"Josh is a fullback who can cover left and right and his resume is quite impressive for a young Queenslander,'' the coach said.

"He won best and fairest awards at his club and being in the NPL means he has been playing at a good standard from a young age.

"What I really like is that he is a very attacking minded fullback and his fitness testing, now that he has finished rehab, is in the superior endurance level.

"The fact that he came in with a slight injury we didn't know about shows he was determined to impress us.

"I believe it was worth waiting five weeks while he rehabilitated because for a young lad he has a very professional outlook and does all the right things.''

Since Merrick took over at the club he has added youngsters Alex Rufer, Reece Caira and Luke Adams, alongside experienced Costa Ricans Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham. They have also signed back-up goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.

The Phoenix now have the A-League minimum 20 players on their books for the upcoming season although it's understood the club is close to releasing Cameron Lindsay from the final year of his contract. The young Kiwi has been barely sighted in the past two years and doesn't feature in Merrick's plans.

- APNZ

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