20 Dec 2016

Smeltz to return in the new year

4:10 pm on 20 December 2016

All Whites striker Shane Smeltz's return to the Wellington Phoenix will have to wait until next year due to A-League transfer window rules.

Shane Smeltz in action for the Phoenix back in 2008.

Shane Smeltz in action for the Phoenix back in 2008. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Smeltz has rejoined his old club for the remainder of the 2016-17 season but won't be able to play for the Phoenix until the 4th of January when the transfer window opens.

His first game is likely to be against his old club - Perth Glory, when the Phoenix face them on January 5.

The Phoenix face the Newcastle Jets on Boxing Day followed by Adelaide United on New Year's Day.

Smeltz said he let a number of A-League clubs and teams in Malaysia where he's been playing professionally know he was keen on a new contact.

"As soon as I knew the Phoenix would be interested my eyes lit up a little bit.

"I thought that would be something great, I'm extremely happy with the decision I made, walking in here I feel extremely comfortable. As I say it's the right decision for me," Smeltz said.

The 35-year-old said he wasn't bothered by the Phoenix's recent fallout with former coach Ernie Merrick who resigned just a third of the way through the season.

Merrick resigned earlier this month when his team suffered its sixth loss in eight matches, putting them at the bottom of the A-League table.

"I wasn't too concerned what's happened in the past. I know there's been a bit of negativity in the last few weeks with that but everyone has to look forward now and there's plenty of work to be done."

The man who replaced Smeltz at the Phoenix in 2009, Chris Greenacre, is now Smeltz's interim coach at the club and the later said he was looking forward to working with the Englishman.

As for his international aspirations, Smeltz said his main focus is on the Phoenix.

"You can't really think too much about the national team unless your club football is going well.

"The aim is for both, I'm certainly walking through here with the same passion and desire as I did day one when I came here and it hasn't changed for the national team either."