DEFENDER Jon McKain will extend his stay with the Wellington Phoenix after agreeing to remain at the New Zealand-based club for another two seasons.
The 27-year-old Australia international was identified as a key retention target after a terrific Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season – his partnership with fellow centre back and skipper Andrew Durante key to the Phoenix-s top performance throughout the competition.
With 12 international caps to his name with the Socceroos, McKain – along with Durante – was rewarded for his excellent form with recent selection to Pim Verbeek-s squad for an Asian Cup qualifying match against Indonesia earlier this month.
Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata was thrilled to secure the services of McKain till at least the end of the 2011/12 season.
“It-s fantastic he-s agreed to stay for a further two years. Jon-s been sensational for us this season since coming back from injury and he-s formed a great partnership at the back with Andrew Durante, who of course will also be staying on in Wellington for at least the next two seasons.
“Jon was very much in demand with other Hyundai A-League clubs, at least six of them, because he-s an excellent player. But he-s enjoying Wellington and being part of the club and that-s what ultimately made it a pretty straight-forward decision for him.”
McKain joined the Phoenix in 2008 after spending several years playing in Romania-s Liga 1. He has played 37 games in total for the Phoenix and scored twice in season 2009/10.
McKain said he was happy to be staying in Wellington.
“I know it took a while to get things over the line but it wasn-t a stalling tactic at all – there were a lot of factors to consider on top of football, including the fact I have a young family.
“But as a team we had a great second half of the season and that ultimately convinced me to stay. We had a successful season and made the Finals Series, so I-m happy to remain at the club and push for bigger things next season.”
Knowledge that the bulk of the 2009/10 squad would be returning also played a part in McKain-s decision.
“The group of players we have here is fantastic; you won-t find a better bunch. Not only do we get on well on the pitch but we-re all great mates off it. We-ve re-signed the core of the guys that have been around this season and produced good results, so now the club can go out there and recruit some more players who can push the pedal a bit.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Michael Ferrante and defender David Mulligan have not had their contracts renewed.
“The club thanks Michael and David for everything they-ve done,” Pignata said. “Michael, in particular, has been an important member of the squad and was a foundation player for the Phoenix. I-m sure that both Michael and David will be able to continue their careers at other clubs.”
Pignata said discussions were continuing with striker Eugene Dadi and midfielder Adrian Caceres, adding that the club had secured the ongoing services of the majority of squad members identified as key for next season.
Further recruitment decisions would be made in due course, said Pignata.
“(Coach) Ricki Herbert, (club owner) Terry Serepisos and I will sit down and discuss exactly what additional players we require for next season. We want to make sure we find the right people and we-ll take our time to do that.”