Former English Premier League veteran Steven Taylor has hit back at suggestions that striker David Ball lacks the quality to match the deeds of last season's prolific Wellington Phoenix front-line.
Coach Ufuk Talay still has several signings to complete, but at this stage Englishman Ball shapes as his key target man, effectively replacing departed Johnny Warren Medal winner Roy Krishna.
Krishna, David Williams and Bayern Munich signee Sarpreet Singh have all left, leaving Talay to somehow make up for their 31 combined competition goals last season.
- Wellington Phoenix sign English striker
- Phoenix sign talented Mexican midfielder
- Singh confirms signing with Bayern Munich
Last season, Ball scored five goals in 35 appearances on loan for Bradford City, who were demoted from the English third-tier League One, but Taylor said an apparently unglamorous CV shouldn't worry Phoenix fans.
"It's a difficult league, when you see the defenders he's playing against and the pressure that's put on, playing game after game," Taylor said. "He's played 50-odd games a season and he's a very fit lad.
"I told him, 'you come here and play, you'll have plenty of time to recover.'
"He had a lot of offers back in England and he still wanted somewhere that was going to test him out. He's very talked-about back home, the fans will love him."
Mexican attacking midfielder Ulises Davila is set to take Singh's playmaking duties and Taylor believes 29-year-old Ball is an excellent acquisition up front, having played more than 350 games in England from the second to the fourth tiers.
Taylor's 13-season career at Newcastle United was mostly in the English Premier League, but before joining Wellington, he battled through what he said was a taxing season with League One Peterborough United.
Taylor was heartened by his early impressions of new coach Talay and he was heartened by the signing of a host of talented Australasian players.
All Whites international Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi was the latest addition on Thursday, joining a sound-looking defensive line-up.
"It's a new era in Wellington," Taylor said. "I enjoyed last year, I can't wait for this year to get going."
The Englishman played down suggestions he would soon be unveiled as captain to replace long-serving skipper Andrew Durante.