A-League: Wellington Phoenix re-sign midfielder Sam Sutton on three-year deal

Wellington Phoenix's signing spree has continued, with young midfielder Sam Sutton re-committing until the end of the 2022/23 season. 

Sutton, 18, debuted for the club last season and went on to play four games during the coronavirus-affected campaign.

The Auckland-born player has come through the Phoenix's youth system, playing 40 games for their reserve side in the domestic competition.

His signing follows confirmation that New Zealand international Clayton Lewis and James McGarry will join the club next season, while English import David Ball, who won the club's Player of the Year Award, also re-signed with the Phoenix through the 2022/23 season. 

"Last season, I thought I'd just be training full-time [with the first team], but four games in, I was given my first chance to play," says Sutton.

"I kept working hard and from there, [coach] Ufuk [Talay] gave me a lot of chances and opportunities to play, which was great for me.

"My goal is to keep moving forward, keep training hard and work my way up. I'm going to aim as high as possible and contribute to the team."

Talay is happy to retain Sutton.  

"It has been exciting to witness Sam's growth since he first joined the Phoenix Academy as a 14-year-old, to see how far he's come along," says Talay. 

"We've invested a lot in our development programme over the past several years, so watching him, and fellow graduates Ben Waine and Liberato Cacace on the first team last season is a testament to its success.

"Sam is an exciting player and at 18-years-old, he's still got a lot of developing to do - but he's on the right track and already he's one of the hardest workers on the squad during practice.

"We believe Sam has all the tools and attitude to become a future star in the A-League, and the club expects big things for him next season."

The Phoenix squad has taken a massive hit during the off-season, with imports Gary Hooper, Steven Taylor and Matti Steinmann moving to India, while young Kiwis Liberato Cacace, Callum McCowatt and Callan Elliot have moved to Europe. 

Also on Thursday, the Phoenix re-signed defender Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi.

The Phoenix have 15 players signed for next season and Talay hopes to have at least 21 players to start the season in late December.