Off-contract trio seeking new opportunities

Three Wellington Phoenix regulars will be moving on at the end of the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season.

First-choice goalkeeper Oli Sail and key midfielders Clayton Lewis and Steven Ugarkovic have informed the Phoenix they won’t be re-signing with the club.

Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill is disappointed the off-contract trio have opted to play elsewhere next season.

“They are key members of our squad and have all contributed to where the team is now; in finals contention with eight rounds to play,” Gill said.

“Oli, Clay and Stevie will be hard to replace next season, but they’re great professionals and I know they’re committed to helping lead the Wellington Phoenix to this year’s A-League finals.

“Negotiations continue with other off-contract players and fans can rest assured that the core of the men’s squad will be sticking around for the 2023-24 A-League season and beyond.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 07: Oliver Sail of the Phoenix celebrates winning the round 11 A-League Men’s match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium on January 07, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Sail, 27, has been with the Phoenix for the best part of a decade, playing for the reserves before breaking through for his first-team debut in March, 2018.

He has gone on to play 70 A-League matches since cementing himself as the club’s no. 1 early in the 2020-21 season.

Lewis, 26, joined the Nix in October 2020 and has played 56 A-League matches for the club.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 06: Clayton Lewis of the Phoenix celebrates after scoring a goal during the round five A-League Men’s match between Wellington Phoenix and Macarthur FC at Sky Stadium, on November 06, 2022, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

Injuries have limited his involvement. He suffered a serious ankle injury last season and is currently side-lined with a fractured kneecap.

Ugarkovic, 28, has featured in all 18 of the Phoenix’s league matches this season, having arrived in Wellington in July with more than 150 games of A-League experience.