Soccer-Phoenix out of isolation, ready for A-League return

SYDNEY, July 3 (Reuters) - The Wellington Phoenix emerged from quarantine in Sydney on Friday with the entire squad now in one facility and able to train together ahead of the return of Australia’s A-League soccer season later this month.

The New Zealand-based Phoenix were required to spend 14 days in isolation in Australia, with the majority of the squad in one facility and Ulises Davila and Gary Hooper in a separate hotel.

Davila had travelled to Australia from his native Mexico, while Hooper had returned to Britain after the A-League was shut down in March due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The last time the boys were all together was three months ago,” Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said in a statement on Friday.

“It’s good for morale for everyone to be living and training in a single location again, so having Uli and Hoops inside our bubble is important for them and us.

“Uli and Hoops are both looking fit and healthy, and definitely happy. Uli couldn’t stop smiling at training.”

Hooper and Davila did not train with the team on Friday due to Football Federation Australia protocols but the entire 24-squad is now in one facility ahead of their clash with league leaders Sydney FC on July 17.

The Phoenix, who are third on the table, had needed clearance from Australia’s government to travel across the Tasman Sea and base themselves in Australia for the remaining six rounds of the season.

The A-League season will resume on July 16 and is expected to be completed by the end of August.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore