Brendon Egan – STUFF/The Press
Midfielder Cory Mitchell and New Zealand under-20s defender Sean Liddicoat are among the new faces in Canterbury United’s squad for this summer’s national league.
The Dragons confirmed a batch of seven signings on Wednesday, including the re-signings of captain Aaron Clapham, veteran defender Dan Terris, striker Stephen Hoyle, and fullbacks Andreas Wilson and Aaron Spain.
Former Canterbury player Mitchell was a standout for struggling Hamilton Wanderers last season, but has returned to Christchurch and produced some pleasing play in the Mainland Premier League for Cashmere Technical.
Liddicoat, a left back or central defender, started every game for New Zealand at the under-20 World Cup in South Korea in May.
Converting opportunities into goals has been a constant source of frustration for the Dragons in recent campaigns and Gerdsen has sought to address the dilemma.
He wouldn’t reveal names, but confirmed they had secured overseas attacking firepower, which would be announced in the coming weeks.
“That’s all sorted. I did the business a long, long time ago. Not only one [player]. We needed to do something up front and we have.”
Gerdsen said Liddicoat and Mitchell would add further depth and quality to their ranks.
Liddicoat played for Hawke’s Bay United over the past three summers, but has opted to link with the Dragons. He studies engineering at the University of Canterbury and turns out for Coastal Spirit in the MPL.
“Sean can play any position in the backline and will strengthen our back unit. We’re very delighted to have him on board.
“Cory has national league experience. He covers a lot of ground and is very good one on one.”
Clapham, who brought up his 100th game for Canterbury last season, has been a mainstay of the side since completing an American university scholarship in 2009.
The 36-year-old Terris, Canterbury’s most capped national league performer with 154 games, missed all of last season due to a plantar fascia tear to his left heel.
He made his long-awaited return from injury for Cashmere Technical on Saturday, playing the final 18 minutes off the bench.
Wilson and Spain were Canterbury’s preferred fullbacks last season and join goalkeepers Coey Turipa and Danny Knight, who were announced last month, as confirmed Dragons players.
Canterbury are set to reveal more names later this month with experienced central defender Tom Schwarz certain to be back. Midfielders Sean Morris, Juan Chang and Gary Ogilvie are also understood to be returning.
Promising young winger Lyle Matthysen, who has scored 11 MPL goals this winter, spoke with Gerdsen last week and could be a possibility.
Matthysen’s situation is complicated by having a South African passport, which would see him classified as an overseas player. Teams are allowed to name a maximum of seven foreign players this season, plus an extra one from Oceania in their match-day squad, compared to eight last season.
“He’s a young player with a lot of potential and he’s on the radar definitely.”
Meanwhile, Selwyn United have been promoted to the men’s MPL for the first time next season after beating Christchurch United 2-1 on Tuesday night to clinch the Canterbury championship second tier title.
Selwyn have only been in existence since December 2012 following the merger of the Rolleston and Ellesmere clubs.
AT A GLANCE:
Canterbury United confirmed signings: Coey Turipa, Danny Knight, Stephen Hoyle, Aaron Clapham, Cory Mitchell, Sean Liddicoat, Andreas Wilson, Aaron Spain, Dan Terris.