International Call-ups abound for Phoenix Players


Nathan Burns’ naming as a Socceroo wasn’t the only Phoenix player to get an international call up today.

When Nathan Burns agreed to join the Wellington Phoenix he hoped the move would help him get back into the Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup, and his goal-scoring exploits have helped him achieve that goal.

Ten goals in 11 games, the best start to an A-League season by a striker, left Australian national team boss Ange Postigoclu little choice but to bring him back from the international wilderness.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick had no doubts about Burns’ ability and felt he could turn him into a regular goal-scorer.

“I tried to sign him a couple of times when I was at (Melbourne) Victory,” Merrick said.

“When I finally got him I think I convinced him that I could turn him into a goal scorer as I have a pretty good record in that area.

“He has been fantastic for the Phoenix and fully deserves to be called up for the Asian Cup.”

Burns, who last played for Australia at the Asian Cup in Qatar four years ago, said the way Merrick has the Phoenix playing was a major part of getting him back into the Socceroos.

“Ernie convinced me that the way he wanted the Phoenix to play would suit me, and it has,” he said.

“When I signed for the Phoenix getting back into the Socceroos was in my mind, but the first priority was to stay fit and well as I had had a few injuries over the last few years.

“That and getting games under my belt was what I needed.

“When it comes to being selected it is all about who peaks at the right time and I have been fortunate to do that.”

Burns learnt of his selection two days before the Phoenix’ 2-0 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

“Yes, I suppose it did help my confidence on Sunday because I am really excited about going into camp,” he said.

He will join the Socceroos after Sunday’s game against Western Sydney Wanderers at Westpac Stadium.

Burns wasn’t the only Phoenix player to get an international call up.

James McGarry and Sam Wilson, members of the Wellington Phoenix Academy which is based at Scots College have been selected for the New Zealand under-17 squad for the Oceania World Cup qualifiers.

Wilson attends Scots College while McGarry is at St Patricks College.

Another member of the Phoenix Academy, Fazeem Khan has been included in the Fiji under-17 squad for the Oceania qualifiers.