Hamish Watson ends four-year stint at Phoenix with eye on NZ Premiership to 'rediscover love for football'




Striker Hamish Watson has left Wellington Phoenix and looks set to make a return to New Zealand's premiership league.

Hamish Watson of the Phoenix competes against James Pritchett of Auckland City FC.

Source: Photosport

The 24-year-old striker and the Phoenix have reached a mutual termination agreement, the A-League club said in a statement on Wednesday.

After a spell in England, Watson returned to the Nix in late 2013, going on to make 39 appearances over four seasons and score five goals.

However, he has found game time limited in recent years, making eight appearances this season for Wellington from the bench, for a total of 75 minutes.

Head coach Darije Kalezic says the decision to chase more game time elsewhere is the right one for Watson at this stage in his career, and comes with the club's blessing.

"Hamish is a player who is very good to work with, he's very professional, and he's one of the local boys, which is important for the football club to have for connection and identity," Kalezic said.

"Unfortunately he has not had enough match time over the past few seasons, and his expectations of future matches was not very high.

"We support his choice to take the step to premiership level in order to play game time, build confidence and rediscover his love for football, and hopefully make a step forward again in the future."

The club has also had an approach from a premiership side to sign talented young centre back Liam Wood, who has captained the Phoenix reserve side for the past two seasons.

Wellington currently sit bottom of the A-League ladder, but have crafted a mini-revival in recent weeks, including a 3-2 win over second-placed Newcastle on Saturday.

They are now just five points behind sixth-placed Western Sydney and a spot in the play-offs, with a game in hand.

The Phoenix play fifth-placed Adelaide United at home on Saturday evening.

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