Nix quintet selected for Ferns’ homecoming

Five Wellington Phoenix players have been named in the Football Ferns squad for the two homecoming internationals against South Korea.

Incumbents Betsy Hassett, Paige Satchell, Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry have kept their places in the 24-strong national squad, while Junior Football Ferns midfielder Grace Wisnewski has been selected for the first time.

Wisnewski was an integral member of the Phoenix women’s side in their inaugural season, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the 11 matches she started.

She missed three games for mental health reasons, cutting short her stay in Wollongong to return to New Zealand when the borders opened.

Wisnewski returned to football after a mental health break and started all three of the Junior Football Ferns’ group matches at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica in August, scoring their opening goal of the tournament against Mexico.

“Grace has been a consistent performer in the A-League and at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. I always saw her as an aggressive defender, but in the World Cup environment she also showed how dangerous she is going forward, especially against Colombia,” Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková said.

“I also want to commend Grace on her bravery in talking about her challenges at the end of the A-League season.

“After taking a few months out before the World Cup in Costa Rica she has come back so much stronger, and can be a great role model for other young players coming through.”

Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková (second from right) was a visitor at Phoenix training last week. Photo credit: Photomac.

Off-season recruits Hassett and Satchell have been first-choice players since Klimková took charge and both started the recent friendly against Japan.

Hassett is the country’s fourth most-capped international footballer, with the midfielder having represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games and the last three FIFA Women’s World Cups.

Pacy forward Satchell has played more than 30 times for the Ferns and has established herself in Klimková’s starting XI over the past year.

Taylor and Barry both broke into the national squad this year after being mainstays at the heart of the Phoenix defence in the 2021-22 Liberty A-League.

Taylor made her Football Ferns debut against Norway in June before going on to lead the Junior Football Ferns at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica.

Barry had to wait to make her senior bow, but did so against Japan earlier this month.

The two matches against South Korea are the Ferns’ first in Aotearoa in four years.

Both internationals are in Christchurch, with the first on Saturday, November 12 and the second three days later on Tuesday night.