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Phoenix ALW side facing ‘keeper crisis

A-League Women newcomers Wellington Phoenix are facing the prospect of naming an outfield player as their reserve goalkeeper if captain Lily Alfeld receives a New Zealand call-up next week.

Alfeld is in the mix to be named in the Football Ferns squad for this month’s SheBelieves Cup in the United States where New Zealand will play the host nation as well as Iceland and the Czech Republic.

Should the 26-year-old get the nod from her national team, it will leave the Phoenix in a bind due to restrictions placed on the expansion outfit by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) upon their entry into the competition.

The club was only allowed to sign a maximum of 11 New Zealanders for their inaugural campaign, while seven players had to be Australian.

Recruiting a visa player would mean one of the young New Zealanders would have to be released given the club has filled its quota.

Similarly, any injury-replacement player would have to be the same nationality as the player they are replacing.

While the Phoenix have a third goalkeeper currently training with the squad in Aimee Hall, they cannot sign the young Australian as she’s under-18.

ALW regulations mean a club has to have a goalkeeper among their named substitutes for a fixture, with Phoenix coach Gemma Lewis conceding the solution may well be to hand a spare pair of gloves to an outfield player if Alfeld is away.

“If that was to happen then potentially that’s what would have to happen,” Lewis said after Friday’s 2-0 loss to ALW champions Melbourne Victory.

“We can’t bring in another goalkeeper, no, and the regulations are that we need to have a goalkeeper on the bench. We’d have to look into that.”

Seemingly in preparation for Alfeld’s absence, Lewis gave backup goalkeeper Brianna Edwards her ALW debut against Victory, bringing the 19-year-old off the bench in the 81st minute of the match at WIN Stadium.

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