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Panama teen signs with Phoenix

22 September 2012 02:50

The Wellington Phoenix has signed Panamanian teenager Ricardo Clarke on loan as an injury replacement for Dani Sanchez.

Sanchez has been ruled out until mid-to-late November following an operation on a troublesome knee.

Clarke, 19, joined the Phoenix on Saturday morning from Panama League side Sporting San Miguelito.

The Phoenix are in Christchurch preparing for their pre-season match against A-League newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.

Depending on the outcome of any fitness tests, the forward could feature in the match at AMI Stadium.

"It depends how much the long journey has taken out of him," Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said.

"If possible I would like to give him a run but we'll wait and see how he is."

Herbert described the game against the Wanderers as his team's 'first real major test' after touring India and playing local sides in pre-season games.

"It is a great opportunity to get a benchmark as to where we are at," he said.

"West Sydney have played other A-League teams pre-season. They are new to the competition and will give us a good challenge which is what we need."

Wellington are still missing Paul Ifill, Sanchez, Jimmy Downey, Vince Lia and Lucas Pantelis with injury, while Mirjan Pavlovic won't return from his loan spell until the end of the month.

"Louis Fenton will get an opportunity to start and Stein (Huysegems) will have the chance to familiarise himself with his new team-mates in a game situation," Herbert added.

Leo Bertos will continue in his new right-back role alongside established defenders Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Tony Lochhead.

Manny Muscat reverts to his holding midfield role with Alex Smith, Fenton, Benjamin Totori and Jeremy Brockie all expected to feature in the starting lineup.

"My focus is on what we've been working on for the last few months. We've elected to play a little differently so this will be a test of what we are doing."

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A-League table

# Team MP D P
6 0 +0 0
7 0 +0 0
8 0 +0 0
9 0 +0 0
10 0 +0 0

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