Merrick scouting islands talent for Phoenix

14 January 2015 05:55:42 EST
Wellington boss Ernie Merrick.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has gone on a scouting mission as he looks to keep his side heading in the right direction.

Wellington have finished in the bottom two in both the last two A-League seasons, but are mounting a serious push for honours this time and are 1/1 to win the Grand Final.

They sit second in the table, just four points behind leaders Perth Glory, thanks in some part to the goals of Roy Krishna.

The Fiji international scored five goals in six games starting in the 2-1 defeat to Perth in November and has been shortlisted for the A-League's player of the month award for December.

The prospect of finding another player from the region who could go on to make an impact in the A-League has led Merrick to fly out to watch the Oceania U-17 championships in Samoa.

Wellington have two players in the New Zealand squad - Sam Wilson and James McGarry - and the as the tournament is being held during the A-League break it is a good chance for the coach to look for potential new recruits.

"You're not going to tell me there's not more young players in the islands who are good players," Merrick said.

"I'm predominantly looking at the New Zealand players and I'm very keen to give them opportunities to play professional football. But I also want to have a look at the standard from the island nations."

Merrick is keen to sign a striker and a defender ahead of next season, with one spot in his squad set to be vacated by defender Michael Boxall.

Stan Matthews, chief executive of SuperSport United, has said the South African club will be signing the New Zealand international at the end of this season.

Matthews said United, who signed Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie earlier this month, had wanted to bring in Boxall at the same time but Wellington turned down their request.

The Phoenix are 1/1 to win their next A-League game against Brisbane Roar.