Wellington Phoenix's latest signing Fin Conchie can't play for his new side until October, as he serves a ban for discrimination.
The Phoenix reserves and NZ U20 midfielder has inked a three-year deal with the A-League side.
He's currently serving a 10-game suspension for a homophobic comment made during a Phoenix reserves' Central League match against Petone FC last month, which means he can't debut for his new team in their Australia Cup campaign, which begins against Peninsula Power at Redcliffe on Friday.
"It's frustrating not being able to join the boys out on the field in a competitive match," Conchie admitted.
"At the same time, it’s allowed me to step back and look at some of the things I need to change and work on over the next couple of months, so when my time does come in the A-League, I can step up as best as possible."
Conchie, 19, has been a key member of the reserves side for the past two years and played every minute of New Zealand’s matches at this year's FIFA U20 World Cup in Argentina.
New Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano has been impressed with Conchie's development and is eager to put him to the test in the elite environment.
"Since Fin's joined us from the reserves, he's done exceptionally well at training and in our internal games," said Italiano. "I wanted to see how he coped in the environment with the senior players and he's adapted well to the pace, so for me, it was a no-brainer to sign him.
"We feel Fin has all the qualities to make the next step up. He's a smart player, good in tight areas, technically sound and he's versatile."
Originally from Hamilton, Conchie played his junior football at Claudelands Rovers and Melville United, before moving to Wellington in 2019 to join the Phoenix academy.
"To sign my first pro contract with the Phoenix is a very proud moment," he said. "I moved away from home when I was 15 to join the Phoenix academy, so the club is really close to my heart.
"Because I’m a Kiwi through and through, and I have no other passport, I always saw the Phoenix as the place where I’d begin my career and progress into professional football.
"I’ve really enjoyed playing for the club over the last four-and-a-half years and this is the next step in my career, which is just starting."
Conchie follows the footsteps of fellow reserves player Lukas Kelly-Heald to become the team's 17th signing for the upcoming 2023/24 season, with the final places in the squad to be decided over the next six weeks.