Men confirm departures

Seven first-team squad members have left the Wellington Phoenix following the team’s exit from the Isuzu UTE A-League finals.

Jaushua Sotirio, Gael Sandoval, Gary Hooper, James McGarry, Matthew Bozinovski, Kurtis Mogg and George Ott won’t be returning to the club next season.

The Phoenix thank them for their contributions and wish them all the best for the future.

Sotirio was one of the first signings Ufuk Talay made when he took over as head coach in 2019.

Every Jaushua Sotirio Goal 21/22

“He’s a player that has really good attributes and is a top character and a top person,” Talay said.

“Jaushy has grown as a player and an individual as well. When we initially signed Jaushy, he was a natural winger and we have turned him into a striker.

“It’s taken him time to adapt but he’s made an impact when we’ve used him starting games and he’s made some massive impact and scored goals at the back end of games when we’ve brought him on and made changes.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 06: Jaushua Sotirio of the Phoenix celebrates scoring a goal during the round 13 A-League match between Wellington Phoenix and Macarthur FC at Campbelltown Stadium, on February 06, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sotirio enjoyed his most productive campaign in 2021/22. He was the club’s equal top goal scorer, finding the back of the net eight times across the A-League and FFA Cup.

In all the pacy forward scored 14 goals and created five others in 65 A-League matches for the Phoenix.

Sandoval played 20 matches for the Nix this year after joining the club on loan from Club Deportivo Guadalajara in Mexico, scoring six goals and creating five others.

“Gael’s been good for us,” Talay said. “He had a little bit of an up and down season, where he’s been very good and there have been times when he hasn’t performed to the best of his ability.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Gael and I wish him success.”

As announced in March, Hooper has cut short his second stint at the Phoenix to return to the UK.

The experienced striker was limited to 14 A-League appearances in 2021/22, scoring four goals.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 01: Javi Lopez of United and James McGarry of Wellington Phoenix during the round seven A-League Men’s match between Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium, on January 01, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

McGarry is also leaving the Nix for the second time.

The left back made 38 A-League appearances for the club over the past two seasons.

He started the 2020/21 campaign as the team’s first choice left back and created three goals in 22 league matches.

This season McGarry was limited to 16 league appearances, with Sam Sutton preferred on the left side of defence.

On-loan defender Matthew Bozinovski and scholarship players Kurtis Mogg and George Ott haven’t been offered contracts for next season, while youngsters Jackson Manuel, Henry Gray and Riley Bidois, who joined the first team during the season, will return to the Wellington Phoenix reserves.

Attacking midfielder Reno Piscopo is coming off contract with the Phoenix and is considering his options.

The Wellington Phoenix currently have 15 players contracted for the 2022/23 season and plan to make a few more signings in the near future.