Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has echoed growing calls for A-League leading marksmen Nathan Burns to included in the Socceroos squad for next month’s Asian Cup.
Burns scored his eighth goal in nine matches to draw the Phoenix level against the Jets before Michael McGlinchey and Roy Krishna added strikes soon after to secure a 3-1 win at Hunter Stadium.
Merrick left his opinion of the 26-year-old striker in no doubt saying he had been trying to sign Burns since he was a teenager.
“I’ve been trying to sign Nathan for four years, since I was at Victory and even when he just came out of the Australian Institute of Sport, and I finally got my man,” Merrick said.
“I would think the Socceroos would be looking very closely at him because he is the A-League top-scorer and is playing great football.”
With the profligate Phoenix behind at half-time after Joel Griffiths’ strike, Merrick cited the introduction of Australian Vince Lia as the catalyst for the re-shuffle that brought upon three goals in five minutes.
“We rode our luck a little bit but we are playing good football and we talked about that at half time,” he said.
“I asked the boys to actually start pushing forward and they didn’t do it initially but the change of bringing on Vince Lia allowed me to push Roly Bonevacia further forward with McGlinchey.
“Keeping (Nathan) Burns and Roy (Krishna) high was a crucial difference that allowed us to score three goals in five minutes. There were some good quality goals and we really looked good after that.”
Merrick had sympathy for winless counterpart Phil Stubbins, comparing his own starts at Melbourne Victory and the Phoenix to that of the Jets’ new coach.
“I finished second-last with Melbourne Victory in my first season and second-last with Phoenix last year,” he said.
“A coach needs time to build his own side and he (Stubbins) has had to deal with a lot of injuries.”