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Mar 27, 2008   |  7:30PM AET

Young goalkeeper released

Young goalkeeper released

YOUNG Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley has been released from his contract to allow him to pursue regular playing opportunities.

Spoonley, 21, signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix in July last year on the back of a stellar performance for the New Zealand under-20 side at the 2007 World Cup in Toronto.

However, with first-choice Phoenix keeper Glen Moss and All Whites No 1 Mark Paston in the Wellington squad, Spoonley had only limited opportunities to prove himself during the team-s inaugural season in the Hyundai A-League.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the decision to release Spoonley with one year left on his contract had been a tough one, but was made with Spoonley-s best interests in mind.

“Jacob-s a great young talent but he needs to play and the club is very conscious of that.”

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert also had big raps on the young shot-stopper.

“From a personal point of view and from a national team coaching point of view, I think Jacob has a fantastic future ahead of him and playing regularly will allow him to develop his game and further enhance his prospects at international level.”

The club was working on Spoonley-s behalf to secure an overseas playing opportunity for him.

“Jacob-s future could well be at the Wellington Phoenix in two or three years- time and that-s something we-d love to see happen,” Herbert said. “But right now he-s got to be playing – it-s as simple as that.

“We-ve considered all the options and we feel that playing overseas would be best for him at this stage.”

Spoonley-s season with the Phoenix had helped to significantly improve the young keeper-s abilities, Herbert said.

“For any young player it-s a valuable experience to be involved at a professional club and Jacob has certainly grown as a player during his 12 months with the Phoenix. That significant development has certainly been borne out by his performances with the current New Zealand Olympic team.”