PROMISING young Australian attacking midfielder Troy Hearfield has been granted a release by the Newcastle Jets and will join Wellington Phoenix for the next two Hyundai A-League seasons.
The 20-year-old had been embroiled in a contract dispute with Newcastle, with the case set to be heard by a Football Federation Australia tribunal. However, the Jets on Friday granted Hearfield a release with one year left on his contract, clearing the way for him to link with the Phoenix.
Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said it was a great result for everyone involved.
“Troy made it clear that he wanted to play for the Phoenix and the club really wanted him here in Wellington. Troy just wants to put what happened behind him and concentrate on playing football.”
The signing of Hearfield completes the trio of under-21 players required on the Phoenix roster, with Costa Barbarouses and Greg Draper the other young players.
Hearfield comes to the Phoenix with a fine pedigree, having represented Australia at under-17 and under-20 level. He is a current member of the Australian Olyroos (under-23) squad that has qualified for the Beijing Games.
Pignata said Hearfield would be a real asset for the Phoenix.
“We-ve been searching for that third under-21 player and Troy fits the bill. He played quite a few A-League matches last season [for the Jets, 14 matches] and he-s a player that can make an impact for us straight away at a young age.
“He-s a very quick player and speed is something that we-ve really looked to inject into the squad for the coming season. Having a current Olyroo, as well, is great and he-ll really fit well into the club.”
Meanwhile, defender Steven Old has been released from his contract.
“We felt that while Steven is a young player with enormous potential he needed more game-time to develop,” Pignata said.
“Given that we have signed players such as Andrew Durante and Jon McKain to bolster the defence, it was unlikely that Steven would get as many opportunities as he or [coach] Ricki Herbert would like.”
The Phoenix have secured a playing contract for Old in the New South Wales Premier League, where he will turn out for the Macarthur Rams.
“Steven can go there, play out the rest of the season and get ready to represent New Zealand at the Olympics. The most important thing for him right now is to be playing regular, competitive football.”
Old, 22, represented the Phoenix 12 times during the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 season and scored one goal.
Date of birth: October 31, 1987 in Tamworth, New South Wales (20 years)
Height, weight: 1.80m, 77kg
Playing position: Attacking midfielder/striker
Club history: 2006-08 Newcastle Jets, 2004-06 Australian Institute of Sport, NSW Institute of Sport
Hyundai A-League statistics: 16 matches for Newcastle Jets (debut v Sydney FC, EnergyAustralia Stadium, February 2, 2007)
Representative honours: Australia under-23 (two matches, one goal), Australia under-20 (14 matches, six goals), Australia under-17
Biography: Talented young midfielder/striker Hearfield has developed through the Australian age-group representative ranks and is a current member of the Australian Olyroos (under-23) Olympic Games squad. He scored a goal for the Olyroos in their 1-1 draw with Mexico in Oakland (United States) in early March. Hearfield joins the Phoenix on a two-year deal from the Newcastle Jets.