New Western Pride player Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
New Western Pride player Dylan Wenzel-Halls. Inga Williams

Dylan returns home rich in higher level experience

BRISBANE Roar Youth player and Ipswich junior Dylan Wenzel-Halls is back in home territory with Western Pride.

Pride moved quickly to secure the striker in an effective swap for top scorer Joe Duckworth who recently joined Roar.

Wenzel-Halls came to attention with 99 goals in three years for Olympic FC's youth teams before scoring on his Roar debut in a National Youth League clash against Melbourne City last summer.

His National Premier Leagues 2016 season saw him restricted to three goals in five starts as he slipped down the pecking order behind the competition's reigning Young Player of the Year Nick D'Agostino and former Pride striker Harrison Sawyer.

Wenzel-Halls said he was happy with his Roar experience despite limited playing time.

"Daggers (D'Agostino) is a good striker with a good reputation, and it was tough playing behind him," Wenzel-Halls said. "But the A-League standard meant I learnt a lot and improved as a player."

The former Ipswich Knights junior said his return to his home town was the perfect opportunity for him and his new club.

"My aim is to get back into a professional environ- ment and this will come from stringing good perfor- mances together and scoring goals," Wenzel-Halls said.

"I've joined Pride to get a lot of game time under my belt and to help improve Pride. I've not played for an Ipswich club since I was eight so it is good to be back playing locally and at a competitive level."

As a junior, Wenzel-Halls moved to Brisbane clubs Lions FC and Olympic FC.

Pride's increasing reputation for youth development has seen an increasing number of local juniors remain in the city.

The club has also attracted top Ipswich talent such as Wenzel-Halls and Josh Grommen back home to continue their careers.

Pride coach Graham Harvey was excited another Ipswich boy had returned to play senior football.

"Dylan adds to a good list of young local players now at the club including Nielen Brown, Jordan Lambi, Josh Grommen, Josh Wilson, Jake Minett and Corey Lucas," Harvey said.

Harvey said it was up to Wenzel-Halls to build on what he had learned at Roar.

"People in professional football have made a decision that Dylan is not at the appropriate level yet," Harvey said.

"He has impressed me so far in training, and it is important he keeps his feet on the ground and opens his mind to learning the game.

"I have no doubt he will score goals in the upcoming season and add to the team culture at Pride."

State of play

NPL senior team pre-season friendly: Gold Coast 4 (Daniel Dragicevic 17', Curtis Stollery 52', Uko Martinez 75', Ryosuke Kawakame 88') def Western Pride 1 (Adam Endean 47') at Brassall on Sunday.

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