Phoenix quartet named in Football Ferns

The Wellington Phoenix are delighted four members of the club’s inaugural women’s squad have been called up to the Football Ferns, with centre backs Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry selected for the first time.

Taylor and Barry, along with Phoenix captain Lily Alfeld and forward Grace Jale, have been named in Jitka Klimková’s squad for matches against Norway and Wales at the end of the month.

Taylor was the Phoenix’s vice-captain for the 2021/22 Liberty A-League season, despite only turning 18 last October.

She started 13 of the team’s 14 matches and scored in the Nix’s penultimate round win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Taylor captained the New Zealand U-20 side in their recent friendlies against Australia and scored the winning goal in their 2-1 win at Kiwitea St.

“Kate is a player we’ve been watching since the A-League women’s season began,” Klimková said.

“For such a young player to be such a valuable member of her team is incredibly exciting. She has a lot of potential and we’re delighted to see her in the senior Ferns environment.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 01: Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry of the Phoenix celebrate victory during the A-League Women’s match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix at Wanderers Park, on March 01, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Centre back partner Barry started 12 of the Phoenix’s 14 games and led the team in clearances, blocks and interceptions.

The 21-year-old also captained the Nix in the absence of Alfeld and Taylor late in the season.

“Mackenzie is another player we’ve watched closely, and it’s been really pleasing to see her progression during the A-League season, in particular her improvement on the ball,” Klimková said.

“Mackenzie, like Kate Taylor, could become a key player in the future.”

Alfeld, 26, started 13 of the Phoenix’s matches in their maiden campaign, only missing one game due to international commitments.

She has travelled with the Ferns for their past two international windows, but has yet to make her bow for the team.

Jale, 23, was called into the New Zealand squad for the matches against the Matildas in April after scoring five goals in the Phoenix’s final six games.

She made her fifth appearance for the Football Ferns in the second international against Australia in Canberra, after four years out of the side.

The Ferns will play Norway in Oslo at 5pm, June 25 (3am, June 26 NZT), before heading to Pinatar, Spain, to take on Wales at 7pm, June 28 (5am June 29 NZT).