Wellington Phoenix have received a much-needed boost, with former club captain Steven Taylor returning to the club for the rest of the A-League season.
Taylor left the club last year for Indian Premier League club Odisha, citing the long and extended off-season as his reason.
The 35-year-old played 49 times for the Phoenix, scoring two goals in his two-year stint with the club, and will provide much-needed experience and cover in defence for the injury-plagued Wellington side.
He'll bolster the Phoenix side, who've endured a difficult start to the new campaign, winning two of their first nine games to sit second-to-last on the table. They have kept one clean sheet, and suffered a mountain of injuries and suspensions.
Taylor boasts 11 seasons of Premier League experience, with 268 appearances for Newcastle United, before joining Portland Timbers in the American MLS, and then Ipswich Town and Peterborough United in the second-tier English Football League.
The Englishmen is excited at the prospect of re-joining his Phoenix teammates and looks forward to playing for the club's fans on both sides of the Tasman.
"I'm looking forward to joining back up with my teammates in Wollongong and working under Uffy [Ufuk Talay] again, and doing my best for the Phoenix fans back in New Zealand and across Australia," Taylor says.
Coach Talay says Taylor brings qualities to the team, which will complement what we already have in the squad.
"Stevie is a class act and he’ll bring that leadership that we need in the backline, especially with Luke [DeVere] out with injury," Talay says.
"As a player, he brings a defensive presence and as a person, he brings leadership and character to the team. "He was very influential in the changing room for us last season and that’s what we want him to bring to the squad, in addition to his play on the field."
The former Premier League defender will finish his Australian quarantine on March 19 and could be available for selection before the Phoenix’s game against Brisbane Roar on March 21.
He will be assessed by the football staff on arrival in Wollongong, with a view to integrating him into team training and match-day selection as soon as possible, and he will wear the No.27 shirt again for the club.