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Phoenix goalkeeper Oli Sail has signed a two-year contract extension.
Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Oli Sail was desperate to stay on the field when his right elbow injury flared up against Melbourne City last Sunday.
After waiting three years to become the Phoenix’s first-choice gloveman, he did not want to give up his spot to Stefan Marinovic, even if it meant playing through immense pain during the final 10 minutes.
“If you’ve got a goalkeeper of Stef’s quality trying to take your spot you don’t want to give him any sniff or a foot in the door, but I felt comfortable staying on the pitch, I made a couple of good saves after the incident as well,” Sail said.
The Wellington Phoenix arrive back in New Zealand.
His strong form for the Phoenix was rewarded on Wednesday, with confirmation that Sail has signed a new two-year contract, keeping him at the club until at least 2022-23.
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Sail has been a revelation for the Phoenix this season, making more saves per game than any other goalkeeper in the A-League (4.3) after jumping ahead of All Whites No. 1 Marinovic in the pecking order.
He fielded interest from Western United, who the Phoenix meet at Sky Stadium this Saturday, but said the opportunity to play regularly was the catalyst for his decision to extend his stay in Wellington.
“It’s obviously an exciting week in general to be back here in Wellington and to show the new boys the ropes around town, but on a personal note it’s fantastic to announce the fact that I’ll be here for another two years. I’m already looking forward to playing more football for the club,” Sail said.
“It just came down to playing football at the end of the day and the opportunity was here in front of me to play football. Wellington have been good to me in the past and I don’t feel like I’ve achieved what I want to achieve here yet, I want to continue to win games and win trophies.
“The club have told me that I’m in the plans and they want me to continue playing football and hopefully I’ve done enough to show that I should be playing football at this club. But you can never assure that, it comes down to performing every week and putting your hand up when the opportunity is there.”
Sail’s path to the No. 1 spot has not been easy. He was deemed surplus to requirements under former coach Darije Kalezic, with uncontracted teenager Keegan Smith getting a start at his expense in 2017.
He mainly provided cover for import Filip Kurto and then Marinovic during the previous two campaigns but finally got his chance to start seven games into the current season following a poor run of results.
“I haven’t had the game time in previous years that I probably wouldn’t have wanted, but this year has been a massive development year for me in terms of getting 90 minutes every week and learning to perform every week.
“But I’ve still got plenty more to give and my prime is still hopefully around the corner.”
Sail had limited involvement during the team’s first training session back at Martin Luckie Park in Berhampore in Wellington on Wednesday as he continues to nurse his sore elbow, which he first hurt three months ago.
However, he is optimistic it will heal in time for Saturday’s homecoming game against Western.
“It’s brilliant to be back. It’s so nice to have our own facilities again. Wollongong looked after us really well and provided us with everything we needed, but this is our training ground so it’s great to be back.
“It’s more just [injury] management today. It’s still a bit tender and a bit stiff but I’ll be fine going forward so hopefully I can ease into training during the week and go from there.”
Sail is the second player to recommit to the Phoenix since returning to Wellington, his signature coming hot on the heels of the re-signing of All Whites midfielder Clayton Lewis on Tuesday.