Phoenix's four visa players leave

14 June 2018 06:45:59 EST
Marco Rossi has left Wellington since the end of the season.

New Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan says last season's top scorer Andrija Kaludjerovic won't be back for the 2018/19 campaign.

Rudan, who was appointed two weeks ago, has quickly reached a decision over the club's remaining two import players. The Phoenix had already released Italian defender Marco Rossi and Serbian midfielder Matija Ljujic following last season's ninth-placed finish.

Now Kaludjerovic and Croatian midfielder Goran Paracki have also been declared surplus to requirements. Rudan says he will search far and wide for greater quality in his mix of visa players.

Serbian striker Kaludjerovic was the club's leading marksman with nine goals. But eight of those strikes came in the first 12 games and he lost his way somewhat in the second half of the campaign.

Rudan said: "The visa players didn't really impress me. We need to improve - they weren't standouts."

Kaludjerovic and Paracki, who only missed three games last season, were signed on one-year deals by previous coach Darije Kalezic.

The Phoenix, who handed Fiji international Roy Krishna a new one-year deal in February, hope the forward will acquire New Zealand citizenship before the season begins in October, allowing Rudan to choose up to the full complement of five new visa players.

The coach added: "I don't have to use all of them. They've got to be a lot better than what I believe the best local players are in each position."

Rudan has at least 10 more spots to fill in his squad for next season, one of which will be a goalkeeper.

Kalezic started last season with 18-year-old Keegan Smith in goal for the first six games but the new coach doesn't feel either he or fellow youngster Oliver Sail are yet ready for the A-League.

The Phoenix are 33/1 to win the 2019 Grand Final and 100/1 to win the minor premiership.

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