Wellington’s goalkeeper crisis may force field players to put on gloves

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Things may get even worse for Wellington Phoenix at the bottom of the A-League Women’s ladder, as they could soon be down to a rule-breaking single goalkeeper.

Many fans may have stared at their screens confused when Phoenix captain and goalkeeper Lily Alfeld walked off the pitch with 10 minutes to go in Friday’s match against Melbourne Victory.

Not only was Alfeld fully healthy, but Gemma Lewis’ side were still constantly on attack, so it seemed a strange move from Nix coach to bring off her star goalkeeper 2-0 down.

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Although the entire Phoenix side, including Alfeld, jumped for joy when 19-year-old Brianna Jayne Edwards made her debut, the real reason behind the strange subbing was soon revealed.

If Alfeld is named in the Football Ferns side on Tuesday, Wellington will only have a single goalkeeper on their roster – Edwards.

Not only this but Wellington would be unable to sign a Kiwi replacement for Alfeld, because the club are not allowed to sign a New Zealand replacement for a player who receives an international call up.

After the loss to Victory, Lewis explained that it was still not clear what Wellington would do if this unique situation arised.

“No, we can’t bring in another goalkeeper if Alfeld gets called up,” Lewis said.

“Edwards has been working really hard so we wanted to give her an opportunity but yes, she may have a lot more opportunities very soon.”

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Although Lewis was confident that Edwards could fill the shoes of Alfeld, if her captain did have to leave the side, her biggest worry was that they would be left with a single goalkeeper, which was against the rules come game-day.

“The really big issue is that league regulations require us to have a goalkeeper on the bench when we go to play,” she said.

“Someone may just have to put on some goalkeeper gloves and sit on the bench.”

Lewis explained that the team had been training with young Australian keeper Aimee Hall for the last few weeks. Hall, however, would be unable to officially sign for the side as she is under-18.

With just a few days before the Football Ferns team naming and a high chance that Alfeld is given the nod due to her international age-grade experience, Wellington are running out of time.

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Lewis did not confirm whether her winless side was going to apply for any sort of exemption, but even if they did, it seems unlikely that the league would bend the rules.

Due to the circumstances, it would not come as a surprise if some Phoenix outfield players have to join the goalkeeping coach to run a few drills to then sit nervously on the bench, just in case.

Either way, there is no doubt that when the Football Ferns side is named, some big questions may either be answered or made a whole lot bigger for Gemma Lewis and her side.

Feature image credit: Wellington Phoenix Media 

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Harry Bartle
Harry is a young Journalist based in Wellington. He will be covering the Wellington Phoenix during the 2021/22 season for the Football Sack and has a love hate relationship with Ulises Davila

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