1 Feb 2016

Phoenix sign Birmingham striker on loan deal

1:01 pm on 1 February 2016

The Wellington Phoenix have signed striker Alex Jones from English Championship side Birmingham City on loan till the end of the A-League football season.

Speaking from England, the 21-year-old said it was a fantastic opportunity and he hoped he could do a good job for the Phoenix who had struggled to score goals this season.

Jones has been playing reserve and under-21 football and jumped at the opportunity to play in a first team in a strong competition.

"It is tough for young players in England with clubs bringing in new, older players all the time and when I discussed it with the manager he thought it was a good chance for me," Jones said.

Jones said the A-League was televised in England and he looked forward to playing in front of good crowds.

"It is also a shop window for players to show what they can do but my first priority is to do the job the Phoenix need from me."

Jones said the idea was first floated by former Phoenix goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould who was now at West Bromwich Albion, the club Jones was with before joining Birmingham City.

"Gouldie said he thought it would suit me and that it could be a great opportunity for me," Jones said.

"He told me about the culture at the club and after speaking to Mr Merrick I couldn't wait to get things moving."

He was hoping he would be there in time to play at the weekend.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick said Jones had been on the Phoenix radar for some time.

"We have created a world-wide network so we can access up and coming young players and bring them to our club," Merrick said.

"Jonathan Gould has been keeping an eye out for promising young players and told us about Alex nine months ago, saying he might be worth looking at as he was scoring goals regularly.

"We had no visa spot available at the time but when Roy Krishna became a long-term injury victim we were able to use his visa spot.

Merrick said he was sure Jones would do a good job but he was not a replacement for Nathan Burns or Krishna, "and I don't want to put undue pressure on him."

Yesterday the club confirmed it had reached a mutual decision with Ghanaian import player Jeffrey Sarpong to terminate their contract and go their separate ways.

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