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By ESPN Staff

Phoenix snap up Kiwi under-20 star

It didn't take long for New Zealand under-20 captain Luke Adams to impress Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick.

After one week's training with the Phoenix, Adams has signed a one-year professional contract with the option of a second year.

Merrick says the 19-year-old is the type of player who deserves an opportunity.

"Luke has been a stand-out at training and fits into our plans for the squad, both as a player and a person," Merrick said.

Adams' skills in leading both the national under-17 and under-20 teams ticked all the boxes, he added.

Adams, who prefers centre back but can also play fullback, says he'll play wherever his manager asks.

"I'm looking forward to working under Ernie. He is very honest - he tells you what he expects and explains what you need to do to achieve it," he said.

Adams has always been on the radar as far as football's talent spotters are concerned.

After making his senior debut for Waitakere United at 15, Adams had two spells with English club Birmingham City including a three-match tour of Slovakia with their under-18 side.

He badly injured his knee while trialling with English Championship side Derby County, but did enough for the club to give him a one-year contract once he recovered.

Released by Derby, Adams is determined to make an impression with the Phoenix and knows that could help him make the next step up to the All Whites.

"That would be great, but all I am focusing on now is doing well at the Phoenix," he said.

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