Wellington Phoenix teenager Louis Fenton could cap off a whirlwind few months by starting for the side in their clash with Sydney FC on Saturday.
Fenton was playing for Melbourne Knights in the Victorian Premier League in June when he received a phone call from Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert to say he had earned a spot in the club’s new school of excellence.
Following a string of good performances on the team’s tour of India, he and Tyler Boyd were given three-year under-21 deals with the A-League club.
And this week, with Paul Ifill on the comeback from knee and ankle injuries, Herbert has hinted 19-year-old Fenton could be in line for his debut out on the wing.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in. It’s happened so fast,” Fenton said of his transition into the professional ranks.
“I haven’t had time to think about it. Only three or so months ago I was living in Australia, now to come back (to Wellington) and have a chance to maybe start (against Sydney), maybe until it happens I won’t really realise.
“Playing against (Sydney marquee signing Alessandro) Del Piero, you start to freak out really. It’s unbelievable. They’ve got (Brett) Emerton who’s played for Australia and in the Premier League too who’s another fantastic player.
“Last year I wouldn’t even imagine playing against them and to maybe have a chance is just so exciting.”
Phoenix assistant coach Chris Greenacre is confident that if Fenton is selected for the season-opener at Westpac Stadium he will have no trouble making the step up.
“Louis has been exceptional in pre-season. He’s gone from strength to strength. Each game has come along and he’s taken it in his stride. He hasn’t looked out of place,” Greenacre said.
“He’s scored one or two goals but he’s started off by doing the hard graft and the rest of it has just taken care of itself.
“It will be great to unleash him on the A-League and for him to step up. Everyone keeps going on about the talented players in Australia but rest assured he’s right up there.”
Fenton may be a young player on the rise, but he still has the post-training chores to complete along with the school of excellence boys. That includes cleaning the boots of the senior players and coaches.
“I’ve got Ifill’s and Greenie’s (Greenacre’s) and they’re not too bad,” Fenton said.
“It’s fine (doing the chores) because these other boys in the school of excellence are my best mates and it’s a good time to catch up.
“We work together and I still enjoy it.”