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Phoenix hotshots grab chance to shine

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/10/2016 Angelo Risso
Alex Rufer in action for the Phoenix. © Getty Images Alex Rufer in action for the Phoenix.

Two Wellington Phoenix young guns say they'll look to use their cameos off the bench last weekend as a stepping stone for permanent first-team roles.

Alex Rufer, 20, and 18-year-old Logan Rogerson both appeared in the second half as the Phoenix began their A-League campaign with a 1-0 loss to Melbourne City.

For Rufer, the match marked his first outing since breaking his leg and ankle for Premiership side Team Wellington in December 2015.

Rogerson, meanwhile, was signed by Merrick at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign but failed to play a single minute last year.

Both were called upon by the veteran coach in response to a squad crisis, with six senior players missing the match through All Whites duty.

Rufer, who slotted into a central midfield role against City, said the opportunity for first-team minutes was exactly what he needed after his long absence.

"It's given me more confidence and I've got a new motivation and hunger from being out for so long," Rufer said.

"I was happy to just get out there, to get back in that environment with the boys."

Rogerson, meanwhile, was relieved to finally make his A-League gong after already earning two caps for the All Whites.

The attacking midfielder was brought on with 10 minutes to go as his side chased the game in vain.

He felt the Phoenix were unlucky to come away without a result after playing more than half an hour against 10 men.

"I've been waiting quite a while for it, and when I got out there it wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be," Rogerson said.

"You've got to keep working hard on and off the field, and the chances will come."

A first-half Anthony Caceres goal gave the much-fancied City outfit, missing star man Tim Cahill, a 1-0 victory.

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