30 Mar 2016

Merrick not done raiding A-Legaue

5:51 pm on 30 March 2016

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick isn't done raiding the rest of the A-League for talent and has a plan to improve his squad even further for next season's campaign.

Merick has already convinced Melbourne Victory pair championship Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler to join the club from next season.

On Saturday, the pair will play against the Phoenix and Merrick says he wants two more high-quality players to join them for the next campaign.

"We just need to get the icing on the cake," he said.

"We've done the rebuild, we need to finish it off with two defenders.

"We've got two starting 11 strikers (in Finkler and Barbarouses) and we're probably looking for two starting 11 defenders and we'll have a very good squad."

Andrew Durante (left) and Kosta Barbarouses will be teamates next season.

Andrew Durante (left) and Kosta Barbarouses will be teamates next season. Photo: Photosport

Merrick said over the previous three seasons he's built up strong depth in his squad of local talent.

He cites a league-lowest average age of starting players as a sign that the club has strength in depth that's improving.

The task to bring in the backs is underway, and Merrick said he wanted to target internationals if he could get Albert Riera and Roy Krishna to take out citizenship.

"We've got a couple of players that have lived in New Zealand for five to seven years," he said.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick

Ernie Merrick Photo: Photosport

"There's a chance they'll get Kiwi passports, which would mean we'd get another Visa spot.

"When I first arrived at the Phoenix it was pretty tough to talk (to international players).

"Now it's very easy ... they're coming to the Phoenix because they feel there's a vision there. The club is selling itself very well."

While next Saturday's match has the potential to be awkward for Finkler and Barbarouses, Merrick said he expected the professionals would perform at their very best against their future employers.

Merrick wouldn't reveal, however, whether the pair were taking up marquee roles.

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