On taking the reins at the Wellington Phoenix, Head Coach Ernie Merrick promised to give youth a chance and he is keeping his word.
Today Merrick confirmed that the Phoenix had signed Australian under-20 international Reece Caira on a two-year contract.
Caira’s signing comes hard on the heels of New Zealand under-20 captain Luke Adams joining the club, and is another step on the way to Merrick finding the balance of experience and youth he is seeking.
A left back or centre midfielder, 20-year-old Caira comes to the Phoenix from Western Sydney Wanderers where he made two appearances last season after spending over three years at English Premier League club Aston Villa.
Born in Gosford, Caira played his early junior football with local club Wyoming Tigers before joining Central Coast Mariners Academy and then moving on to Blacktown City.
It was at Villa that Caira began to blossom and though, in his own words, he didn’t get close to a first team spot when he got a one-year contract, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I got to see England and got a close look at how the professionals worked,” Caira said.
“It put me in a good position when I was released and went back to Australia.
“I played in all the Under-20 World Cup qualifying games but the success Wanderers had in their first season made it hard to break into the side so I asked permission to trial with the Phoenix to see if I could get more first team football.
“They agreed I could go to Wellington and I’m really excited to be joining the club.”
While he has only been at the club for a short time Caira has been impressed with the way Merrick operates.
“He has been really positive from the first day, and though I haven’t been here long he’s had a few one-on-one’s with me.
“I know he is going to help me a lot.”
Merrick said Caira had a lot going for him and he was pleased to have secured him for two years.
“Reece has a good background having represented Australia at under-20 level, and he is well-schooled in the game after three and a half years at Aston Villa,” the coach said.
“He can play at left back or midfield and that flexibility makes life easier for me.
“Up and coming players like Reece have got the speed and skills to play more than one position.
“His signing adds another youth international to our ranks which gives us a blend of experience and high quality young players.”
Join Reece and join the Club - become a Member this season at www.wellingtonphoenix.com.