Flying Kiwis – May 7

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Ria Percival – West Ham United (English Super League)

Wembley Stadium. The FA Cup Final. It’s all a bit of a dream for a young footy player growing up in Aotearoa, male or female, but Ria Percival made it history as she became the first New Zealander to play on that fabled stage in that fabled cup. Her West Ham United faced up against massive favourites Manchester City for the FA Cup on the weekend with Percy playing in the heart of the midfield… just as she’ll do for the Footy Ferns at the World Cup in about five weeks.

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Man City are still undefeated in the league with a game to play but Arsenal still managed to beat them to the WSL trophy so this was their last remaining shot at silverware to add to their WSL Cup success… but in front of a massive crowd of 43,264 in London there was plenty of support for the underdogs. The Hammers came out fired up and a last-ditch sliding challenge from captain Gilly Flaherty ensured the fans did too. Jane Ross then so nearly put WHU in front as her header from a perfect Erin Simon cross was tipped away by the City keeper. That proved to be the best chance of the first half, with a sturdy and occasionally desperate West Ham defence keeping the Sky Blues quiet. But that was only for the first half. The second half was a different story.

It began when Keira Walsh skipped past one player and unleashed one from distance. Ria Percival leapt across to try and block it and it looked like maybe she got just a touch of it, either that or Flaherty did, or perhaps the shot really had that much off spin on it. Because that thing pitched in front of Anna Moorhouse in goal and it turned sharply and she couldn’t quite get a hand on it, deceived just enough. Definitely one Moorhouse will feel she should’ve saved though.

City were rampant in the second half although it wasn’t until the 79th minute that Georgia Stanway stabbed in a second. Just after Ross and Alisha Lehmann had kinda wasted a two-on-one counter attack for West Ham. A couple spare chances that the Hammers needed to do something with but weren’t able to. Percival had been switched to right back by this time and it was down were wing that Lauren Hamp got through in behind the defence… but that doesn’t explain Moorhouse rushing out and getting beaten for the third. Bit of a ‘mare from the WHU keeper to be fair, although nobody would argue that the better team won. 3-0 to Man City.

Here’s a highlight from The Guardian’s min by min report:

“79 mins: More last-ditch stuff from West Ham as Stanway, fed by a tireless Stokes, marauds into the box only to be stopped in her tracks by a glorious tackle from Percival. The defender strides out with the ball, leaving Stanway in a crumpled heap behind her. Marvellous defending.”

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And here’s a full replay for those of you who are super keen. Or maybe those of you who are related to Ria Percival. Either or.

Up Next: Saturday at 11.30pm against Brighton (NZT)

Michael Woud & James McGarry – Willem II (Dutch Eredivisie)

It really was cup final week with the Flying Kiwis. Michael Woud had played the last couple games for Willem II and all at the right time too with the KNVB Cup final against Ajax coming up, although word was that regular keeper Timon Wellenreuther was probably going to recover in time to start. He’d been the hero in the penalty shootout of the semi-final so fair enough if he’s good to go, but after Ryan Thomas announced himself to the Dutch footy world in a KNVB Cup final win over Ajax a few years ago this could have been a beautiful bit of cyclical coincidence.

Willem II coach Adrie Koster: “It looks good. [Wellenreuther] trained for two days and received no response. We have to wait and see what tomorrow will be like, but I expect that he will be fit.”

Sure enough, Wellenreuther was fine and that meant Mike Woud got to watch the final from the bench alongside James McGarry. Which is one hell of an achievement in itself, having two kiwis on the bench for a cup final in a top five European league. But neither would take the field as Ajax ran out to a comfortable win in the end.

Going for the first trophy in their attempted treble, Ajax named an extremely strong side and after a positive start from Willem it soon became clear which way this was going. Daley Blind opened the scoring in the 38th minute when he broke the offside trap to get enough of a touch on a cross that Wellenreuther wasn’t able to deal with it. One the keeper might’ve done better with though. Then Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored not even a minute later and that was a killer. Skipped through the defence too.

Willem also started the second half with some energy but were lucky not to go three down when Wellenreuther rushed off his line and got caught out, the defence recovering to help him out. But after 66 minutes Ajax did that thing they do and passed their way to a second for Huntelaar and Rasmus Nissen Kristensen scored the fourth with quarter of an hour to go. 4-0 was the final score. Pretty decisive. Still, this side beat Real Madrid and Juventus so nothing to be ashamed of.

Up Next: Monday at 12.30am at home to FC Emmen (NZT)

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

With safety already guaranteed, the last couple games did sort of threaten to be a bit dull for Burnley. Still time to bag a couple more goals for Chris Wood but yeah, the stakes simply aren’t there anymore for this side. So maybe their performance against Everton was to be expected then.

Everton took the lead with a Richarlison strike from range which took a deflection off Ben Mee and ripped into the net. Soon after Seamus Coleman headed into an open goal after Tom Heaton had parried the ball right to his feet after a Lucas Digne effort. 2-0 down after twenty minutes and looking by far the second best team out there.

But the Clarets got better as the game went on. Ashley Barnes had a goal disallowed for offside. Matej Vydra should’ve gotten a penalty in the second half for a shove in the back from Burnley old boy Michael Keane. Wood’s best chance was one he couldn’t quite get a hold of after Jack Cork had flicked on a clearance from Heaton all the way back the other end. Woody caught it okay but not well enough to get the England keeper in any strife… apart from when the two of them collided in the aftermath, that is. But they both recovered alright.

TheGuardian.com: “Jordan Pickford saves from Chris Wood! Heaton thumps the ball upfield, Jack Cork helps it on its way and Wood hits it first time. He does not do a lot wrong but his effort is short of the power required to trouble the Everton goalkeeper. And that’s Burnley’s first shot on target. They haven’t had much to write home about.”

That about sums it up. Wood had a heavy touch which cost him a possibility to shoot later on with Robbie Brady fed one to him and otherwise there wasn’t much going on for the All Whites striker, who played the full ninety minutes. Burnley had just four total shots and that other one proved their only shot on target. They weren’t embarrassed like it looked as if they could be early on but a comfortable defeat on the road. Not that it matters, Burnley’s job is already done this season. They finish up at home to Arsenal next week in a game which might still have big repercussions on the Champions League race… so kiwi fans of Tottenham, Chelsea, and Manchester United have plenty to cheer for.

And, uh, this looks like one of those optical illusions but… dunno. What do you reckon?

Up Next: Burnley vs Arsenal, 2am on Monday (NZT)

Abby Erceg – North Carolina Courage (American National Women’s Soccer League)

The new season has picked up pretty much exactly where the last one left off with Abby Erceg leading the NC Courage defence with pure magnificence. Abby made four out of six teams of the month in 2018 so stepping straight into the March 2019 edition means five selections in a row amongst the best in the business. Teammate Crystal Dunn was also included.

NWSL.com: “Erceg enjoyed a strong overall performance in April as she helped the Courage achieve a 2-0-1 record and claim their spot at the top of the standings. She registered 17 clearances and 6 interceptions, while starting all three games and registering 270 minutes played.”

The Courage hosted Sky Blue this week, a game they were expected to win comfortably (even if Sky Blue have improved a lot since 2018) but they sure had trouble early on, Erceg making a pretty crucial block one time. At the other end, Lynn Williams then showed some pace to get in behind the defence before she hit the post and Debinha followed that pattern by also striking the post – NCC unable to put their chances away as things went scoreless into half-time.

Things weren’t really helped in the 51st minute when a lightning storm caused the game to be delayed for ninety minutes. Both goalkeepers made a few important stops after it resumed and the Courage were left thanking Merritt Mathias for a stunning goal-line clearance at the end that they were able to escape with a 0-0 draw. Disappointing result given the chances they created but that’s what happens when you don’t put them away. Missing four starters who were in camp with the USA national team didn’t exactly help either.

The World Cup means this is going to be a weird season, especially for a team like NCC with a number of internationals. America named their squad last week and so Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, and Jess McDonald won’t feature again for the Courage until the end of the tournament, which given how strong USA are is likely to be sometime in July. Other players are to begin leaving for national team duty in the coming weeks too, with the World Cup kicking off in just over a month’s time. Erceg is supposed to stay until close to the end of May and they’re gonna need her, that’s for sure. There’s a bye week during the group stage but otherwise the NWSL kinda inexplicably continues on as usual during the global showcase.

Also, here are a couple other things…

Up Next: Chicago Red Stars vs NCC, Monday at 10am (NZT)

Katie Bowen – Utah Royals (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Yup, that’s Katie Bowen alright. Going hundies for the cause.

Tell you what, the Royals might have a serious team on their hands this season too after they topped the Chicago Red Stars, last season’s beaten semi-finalists. It was a game where Utah had a fair few chances right from the start, with Amy Rodriguez hitting the crossbar inside ten mins, but they really got a boost when Katie Johnson was sent off late in the first half for a raised elbow going for a header.

A little unlucky but so it goes. Katie Bowen got kicked in the gut straight after the red card offence and was down injured as the red card popped out but she recovered well enough, don’t panic. The Royals still had a tough time with Sam Kerr and the rest of them even after that but Rodriguez won it in the 84th minute with a sharp little finish.

That’s Utah’s third straight 1-0 win to start the season. Shy on the goals but they still haven’t conceded after three games which is wild. With the Courage drawing twice already that means that the Royals sit in first place with a game in hand. Early days, just a month into the season, but a great start from that lot.

Up Next: Utah Royals vs Houston Dash, Sunday at 7.30am (NZT)

Clayton Lewis – Scunthorpe United (English League One)

It was all kinda desperate going into Scunthorpe’s last game of the season. Away to Plymouth Argyle, their horrific late season collapse had left them in a situation where they needed a result to have any chance of staying up. But then so did Plymouth and only one team turned up looking likely. Plymouth took the lead in the 8th minute through a scrappy Lloyd Jones goal before Freddie Ladapo made it two after 35 with a nice strike from the edge of the area. But Kyle Wootton pulled another scrappy one back to have it 2-1 at the break.

Then some weirdness. If Scunthorpe thought they had the karmic power to save their league one status with a second half comeback then they soon threw it away. An injured Matt Macey, Argyle keeper, went to roll the ball out after getting injured, making it pretty obvious what was going on. But Josh Morris sprinted over to keep it in and then chipped him from the sideline for an extremely controversial goal. No walking one in at the other end here, although there was bit of a fracas between the two sides in front of the benches. Clayton Lewis was probably out of his weight class as he hovered on the fringes of that one.

So only fair then that Graham Carey scored with twenty left to win it for Plymouth Argyle and relegate the Iron. And also Plymouth, coz the win wasn’t enough for them. Sucks for Scunthorpe but two points from their last nine games is relegation form whatever way you look at it. The one positive is that Clayton Lewis did get a good run of games at the end there, starting their final three. If he’s still around next season in league two then he ought to be a more prominent figure. Lewis was subbed out with ten left in this one. All up he played 15 games in this league season, three of them starts, for 465 total minutes of footy. Big step up from the 69 minutes he managed in his first season.

Grimsby Live Player Ratings: “Clayton Lewis - The game mostly passed him by as both teams looked to attack over the top, but he battled in the middle and tried to move the ball and looked to link-up play. He needed more help in the centre of midfield - 7”

Up Next: Season over

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

And with that it’s season over for Oldie and the Shrimps. At home against Newport County with nothing left to play for but the fun of it, it was a big ugly heaving clearance downfield from Steven Old that set up the opening goal. His fifty-metre hoof picked out Aaron Collins, whether deliberately or not, and he picked out the back of the net, beating the keeper at the near post after holding off the defence with a bit of strength. So that was cool, pretty sure that’s the best assist Old’s had all season. Not the only one though, he’s recorded with three apparently.

Newport County then proceeded to put all sorts of pressure on the Morecambe defence but a lack of anything close to clinical finishing meant it was still 1-0 at the break. Still 1-0 for a fair while after it too as Shrimps keeper Danny Lloyd made a few cheeky saves. None as cheeky as the one he made in the first half while facing the wrong way though. But after holding on for so long, Morecambe finally conceded as a header at the far post was tapped in by Jamille Matt in the 87th minute. A little bit of a bummer for Morecambe but the most important goal of the season for County, as it put them up into seventh and into the playoffs for promotion.

Morecambe meanwhile finish a comfortable 18th out of 24 teams with 54 points from their 46 games. They dodged relegation by a 13 point buffer in the end. Steven Old played 39 of those 46 games, with 37 of them starts, scoring two goals and playing the third most League Two minutes in the squad behind Luke Conlan and Zachary Mills. Oldie had one injury layoff in the middle there which cost him some games and it briefly looked like he’d be dropped after they signed Ritchie Sutton in January. But injuries elsewhere and an upturn in form kept him out there as a regular the rest of the way and with one more year on his contract he’ll be back again next time.

Up Next: Season over

Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish Süper Lig)

There’s still some work to be done for the Ankers. A poor run of form lately, with only one win from their last eight, has them back in their pre-January style of things but with three games to play they’re still five points clear of the drop zone. This after twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Rizespor.

It was a game they were lucky not to lose based on the first 45 minutes. They were well outplayed in the first half, going behind after 26 minutes and almost conceding a second until an offside in the lead up hauled that one up. But then a strong second half changed everything. They nearly had a penalty when Boyd was felled in the box… but an earlier foul was spotted by VAR as they went to take a peek at the spot shout. Boyd got an earful from an angry defender accusing him of milking it but it did appear that it would have been a foul had there not been an earlier infringement.

Ankers kept at it and they finally got their goal when Ilhan Parlak finished off from close range in the 59th minute. Rizespor then popped one off the upright which was a relief, before Michal Pazdan thumped in a header from a corner and suddenly the Ankers were 2-1 up with time running out. Not running out fast enough however. Some hands-on defending led to a slightly dodgy VAR penalty awarded the other way and 2-2 was the way it ended.

Up Next: Title contenders Istanbul Basaksehir at 4am on Monday (NZT)

Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

It’s happened. Anthony Hudson was sacked last week. Eight wins from 46 games kinda speaks for itself and with the Rapids still without a win two months into his second season it was clear that nothing was improving. It had to be done, to be honest.

Of course that left Tommy Smith and Deklan Wynne in a bit of a state. How would that work out under the caretaker manager? One of the first things he did was to drop Smithy, who as a star signing last season had been pretty awful in the early days of 2019. But Deklan Wynne held on to his spot in a back three so that was cool.

ColoradoRapids.com: “Defender Deklan Wynne will make his second consecutive start tonight against Vancouver. The 24-year-old enters his second season in Colorado after making 25 regular season appearances with the Rapids in 2018, 22 from the start. Prior to joining the Rapids, Wynne spent three seasons with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.”

Thing is, the Rapids are useless for many reasons and a new coach wouldn’t fix things immediately. Their new manager bounce was a 2-0 deficit after 25 minutes with CB Axel Sjoberg getting sassed for both goals. The Vancouver Whitecaps are also rubbish these days though so there was a little comeback on the cards. Kei Kamara scored a penalty on either side of half-time and here we were at 2-2. But typical Rapids, Diego Rubio slapped a bugger and got himself sent off and then, down to ten men, they conceded the winner in the 82nd min and lost 3-2. Still winless this year. 

Denver Post: “Hudson’s decision-making regarding on-field personnel has been in doubt throughout his tenure in Commerce City. He was clearly instrumental in bringing in several players with whom he had familiarity from his previous job as manager of the New Zealand national team, as Kiwis Deklan Wynne, Kip Colvey and Tommy Smith were all brought on board. None of the three distinguished themselves in their play; Colvey and Wynne were given multiple chances as starters but ultimately did not perform well, and Tommy Smith has been a consistent starter even up to last weeks 1-0 defeat in Atlanta, much to the chagrin of many fans and observers. Those players received opportunities at the expense of veteran Rapids such as Axel Sjoberg, Micheal Azira and Jared Watts, who were all significant contributors to the 2016 Rapids team that had the best defense in the league.”

Up Next: Colorado vs Real Salt Lake, Sunday at 1pm (NZT)

Erin Nayler – Girondins Bordeaux (French Division 1 Féminine)

Another one to wrap up their season this week was Erin Nayler, whose FCGB team drew 1-1 with Paris, Kathellen Sousa scoring with less than twenty remaining on the clock to cancel out Linda Sallstrom’s earlier strike. On an absolutely blistering day, Nayler made a couple big saves but one outstanding one in particular in the first half which you can check out in the highlights.

Montpellier beat Lille at the same time but that didn’t matter because Bordeaux could only catch them with a win anyway. But that equaliser did keep them clear of Paris which locks in fourth place on the table. A brilliant finish for them, taking 34 points from their 22 games to improve heaps on the 22 points and seventh place that they bagged a year ago. Nayler started 16 of those 22 games, international duty getting in the way a couple times, keeping five clean sheets.

And then the next day FCGB star Vivien Asseyi did a spot of punditry on the telly at the Bordeaux vs Angers game and the whole squad turned up to support. Got a little highlight on the telly camera too. Nice work.

Up Next: Season over

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Fresh from coming off the bench to provide a goal and an assist last week in easily his most influential game for SønderjyskE yet, Marco Rojas was picked as an attacking midfielder for the first leg of their Europa League Playoff quarter-final at home to Randers. It’s a bit of a contrived way of keeping the Danish league interesting by having all the clubs who aren’t competing for the title or relegation scrap it out for the last Europa League spot but who doesn’t love knockout footy?

Cristian Jakobsen gave Sonders the lead in the 38th minute. Danny Amankwaa made a great run down the right, shrugging off a defender at the end, before cutting back to Jakobsen to score. That lead lasted into the break and Sonders came out looking likely to add to it, Marco Rojas going close in the 58th when he threw a few jinks and jives drifting across the area but his shot was parried over the bar. Mart Lieder then whacked the crossbar from range and Rojas nearly set one up only for Johan Absalonsen to fire off target.

Then Sonders were made to pay for their profligacy as Saba Lobzhanidze levelled up for the visitors with a header in the 82nd minute and it ended 1-1. Gonna need to score a goal next week in the away leg now. Based on this game they’ll rate themselves a decent chance to do that, however. Good to see Marco Rojas getting big minutes and being involved in things.

Up Next: Away to Randers on Monday at 2am (NZT)

Nikko Boxall – Viborg FF (Danish Division 1)

Straight back to winning ways with a 3-1 triumph at home to Roskilde. They were 1-0 up at the break thanks to a spotty from Christian Sivebæk and although things got testy after Emil Nielsen tied it up from the spot five minutes into the second half, goals to Simon Trier and Morten Becj Andersen ensured that Viborg got the three points they needed. Full game for Nikko Boxall at the back. He didn’t give away the penalty either, if you were wondering. That was his other CB mate with a cheeky handball that got spotted.

What’s more is that Næstved conceded two late goals to lose 3-1 away to Hvidovre and now that opens up a five point gap between Viborg in second (one point behind Silkeborg) and third placed Næstved. Second and third play off for the second promotion spot at the end of it so gotta keep on pushing with four games remaining – Viborg plays away to Silkeborg next Wednesday which could decide the division one title. 

Up Next: Viborg vs Fredericia, 4am on Friday (NZT)

Meikayla Moore – MSV Duisburg (German Frauen-Bundesliga)

Good news: Meikayla Moore was fit to play against Turbine Potsdam despite being subbed off last week with a precautionary injury concern. She started in a back three, which is a new one for Duisburg but probably very similar to the role she’ll play at the World Cup.

Bad news: They lost 3-0. Meikayla Moore got a yellow card in the second half.

Good news: Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen also both lost, Leverkusen 4-2 away to SGS Essen and Werder Bremen at home to SC Sand. What that means is that, with one game to play, Bayer Leverkusen cannot catch MSV Duisburg so despite having a -39 goal difference this season the Zebras will be playing top flight footy again next time. Big churs.

Up Next: Duisburg vs Frankfurt, midnight on Monday (NZT)

Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

The important first new here is that, sure enough, Bill Tuiloma’s stunner of a goal last week has won Goal of the Week honours for the MLS. And the vote wasn’t even close.

The Timbers resurgence of late continued too as they won their third game in a row, dropping Real Salt Lake on the road 2-1. Steve Clark, the backup keeper getting a go here, saved a first half penalty before Seb Blanco whacked one away. RSL tied it up when Sam Johnson scored off the post after an hour but six minutes later Diego Valeri put away what ended up being the winner. Not a prime performance from the Timbers but they got the points. What’s more is that Bill Tuiloma is seriously starting to make a name for himself in the MLS. Dude’s been playing great lately and it wasn’t just that goal.

The Oregonian: “Bill Tuiloma has solidified his spot in the starting lineup - The Timbers tried multiple different options at center back earlier this season as the club tried to find an effective option on defense. The Timbers conceded a whopping 17 goals in their first six games this season as they dealt with a lack of organization on defense, big individual errors and problems in areas all over the field. But the Timbers have found their answer at center back in recent weeks. Bill Tuiloma and Larrys Mabiala have proved to be an effective center back pairing for the Timbers. While Mabiala has been a key starter for Portland since late in the 2017 season, Tuiloma's ascent has been a pleasant surprise. After earning just seven starts last season, Tuiloma has already started in seven games this year and has proven to be a strong and consistent defender. With Tuiloma stepping up alongside Mabiala, the Timbers have become a much stingier defensive team over the last several weeks.”

Portland have also reportedly completed a transfer for Mexican forward Brian Fernandez who’ll now join the club immediately, which sounds choice. They were missing a genuine gun of a centre forward and now they might have one. Fernandez has been more of a winger with his old club Necaxa though so we’ll see where he fits in. Gavin Wilkinson taking care of business there.

Up Next: Away to Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday at 2pm (NZT)

Greg Draper – The New Saints (Welsh Premier League)

As we all expected, TNS wrapped up the Welsh Cup to go with their league title and Greg Draper played a big part. Scored the opener in the sixth minute and they went on to win 3-0 against Connah’s Quay Nomads. A couple Ryan Brobbel supplied the other goals. Yet another fantastic season for Draper and The New Saints.

Up Next: Season over

Rebekah Stott & Vic Esson – Avaldsnes IL (Norwegian Toppserien)

For the first time this season, both Vic Esson and Robekah Stott started together for Avaldsnes. Regular starting keeper Line Johansen had been dropped to the bench after conceding nine goals in the previous two games… although Esson couldn’t do a whole lot better on debut as they lost 3-1 to Kolbotn. Been a struggle for Avaldsnes so far without a win from their first seven games, drawing four and losing three.

The first goal was a bit of Esson’s fault, getting caught off her line and chipped on the volley. Still a great finish though. The second was a header from a corner which was down to her defence not challenging. The third was a plain and simple stunner from outside the box. Good to get that first one under the belt though and we’ll see if she can lock down that starting role into the future.

Up Next: 1am on Sunday at home to Stabæk (NZT)

CJ Bott – Vittsjö GIK (Swedish Damallsvenskan)

Not a huge amount to report about this one, but a 1-1 draw away to Växjö keeps Vittsjö within three points of the top of the ladder. Michele de Jongh had given them the lead in the 37th min with a sharp effort from a bit of an angle. CJ Bott had looked confident getting forwards from left back and swinging in a few crosses. Vittsjö probably should’ve put a second one away from all their chances. But they didn’t and Anna Anvegård broke the offside trap to tie it up with twenty minutes left and neither team could find a winner. 1-1 the final score.

Up Next: Home to Eskilstuna United at midnight on Sunday (NZT)

Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)

He’s no chance to play next week but Winston Reid’s looking like he’ll be good for the start of preseason the way things are going. He’s been back in at least partial training for a while now but hasn’t been considered for any proper action. Reid last played in May 2018 so he’s missed this entire season and there’ll be talk of him being sold in the summer, though Manny Pellegrini seems to want him around as a senior leader with that defence… even if he’s not first choice. Things can change fast in football though.

Anyway, here’s Reidy and family out on the park with the rest of the Hammers crew at the end of their 3-0 win over Southampton. Giving the fans the treatment after their final home game of the campaign. Poor old Andy Carroll was out there on crutches.

Up Next: Watford vs WHU, Monday at 2am (NZT)

Ryan Thomas – PSV Eindhoven (Dutch Eredivisie)

ED.nl: “It is now expected that Thomas will at least partially train with the group at the start of the preparation period (end of June). He is now working on an individual basis and has been doing so on the field for quite some time. This gives PSV an extra option for midfield, for which sufficient choices can already be made on paper. Thomas has to deal with this season's Michal Sadílek and Pablo Rosario. In addition, PSV also has Érick Gutiérrez in the selection and for the most offensive position (number 10), sufficient alternatives are now also available.”

Not much to that clip, just confirming that Thommo is on track to be ready for next season and should have at least a partial role from the beginning of preseason. PSV are currently equal on points with Ajax with two games to play but are behind on goal difference. Both of those teams are likely to be in for a bit of foreign raiding in the transfer market so hard to say what kind of squad Thomas will be returning to but however it goes it’ll be a relief to see him back after so long out. Been a weird season of Flying Kiwis with zero Winston Reid or Ryan Thomas involved.

Up Next: Still on the rehab bus

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