Whinham handed maiden senior call-up

Alyssa Whinham has been named in the Football Ferns for the first time.

The creative midfielder is one of five members of the 2022-23 Wellington Phoenix women’s squad selected by Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková for next month’s international friendly against Japan.

134-cap midfielder Betsy Hassett, first-choice winger Paige Satchell and young defenders Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry have retained their places in the New Zealand squad.

Whinham, 18, was one of the breakout stars of the Phoenix women’s inaugural season and was a finalist for the young women’s footballer of the year award.

Despite being signed as a scholarship player she featured in all 14 of the Phoenix’s matches, starting 12 in a row after impressing as a substitute in the team’s opening two games.

Whinham became the club’s second ever goal scorer when she found the back of the net against Brisbane Roar in January and her priceless reaction was one of the moments of the season.

She recently returned from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, where she started all three of the Junior Football Ferns’ group matches.

“Alyssa will bring a lot of creativity to the Ferns whānau,” Klimková said. “Her skills on the ball are just different compared with what we have in the team so far.

“She’s a very unpredictable player and it will be fun to see how she fits in, and how she adapts to the greater physicality and speed of senior international football.”

The Football Ferns will assemble in Japan this weekend, with the international friendly in Nagano on Sunday week.