Half a dozen Nix called up to take on the world champs

The Wellington Phoenix have released six players to the Football Ferns for their upcoming matches against the U.S.A.

Midfielders Betsy Hassett and Grace Wisnewski, forwards Paige Satchell and Emma Rolston, defender Mackenzie Barry and goalkeeper Lily Alfeld have been named in the Ferns squad for two international friendlies against the world champions, which fall outside a FIFA international window.

The first match is at Sky Stadium in Wellington on Wednesday, January 18, with the second at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, January 21, in between the Phoenix’s 10th and 11th round matches in the Liberty A-League.

The Nix will face the Glory in Perth on Sunday, January 15 before returning home to host Canberra United the following Sunday.

“We can look at it with pride that we have that many players represented in the Ferns,” Phoenix coach Natalie Lawrence said.

“Quite a few of the players are on the fringe of the Ferns or on the fringe of getting more minutes so for them it’s a huge opportunity to show Jitka (Klimková)…playing against the best team in the world what they can do and really put their hands up for the world cup.

The Phoenix have agreed with the Ferns coaching staff that Hassett, the country’s fourth most capped footballer, will only be available for the first match against the U.S.A before resuming her club commitments.

Betsy Hassett will be available for the Football Ferns’ first match against the USA, but won’t travel to Eden Park. Photo credit: Photomac.

The other five Nix players called up will be able to play both matches, but with restricted minutes.

“We’ve managed to work really closely with Jitka to ensure a really good load management plan so players are pretty much available for both of our games that clash.

“A Perth away trip causes us a few little headaches but the beauty of it being here is we can get the best of every world.

“The girls are really passionate about playing for the Phoenix and they’re also really passionate about playing for the Ferns so to give them the opportunity to be able to do both, without compromising too much I think is a bit of a win-win.

“I know some other clubs haven’t released players and that’s their prerogative, but I’m really pleased that we could come to a solution where players can represent the Phoenix and represent the Ferns.”

Hassett, Satchell, Rolston and Barry all featured in the Ferns’ homecoming internationals against South Korea in November, while Wisnewski was named in the squad but missed the matches due to a calf injury.

Alfeld, like Wisnewski, has yet to represent New Zealand at senior level despite featuring in a number of Ferns squads last year.