Ex-Black Cat has Magpies in his sights

Former Sunderland player Alex Rodriguez-Gorrin will hope for another smashing performance at his new Hyundai A-League club Wellington Phoenix when they face his former club’s biggest rival Newcastle United in New Zealand on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Spaniard signed from Sunderland for Ernie Merrick’s Phoenix in the off-season and made his debut midweek in an impressive 2-1 win over West Ham United in Auckland.

It was Gorrin who sparked the New Zealand franchise into life with his clever display, setting up the first for captain Andrew Durante to head home.

He then scored the second with a cool finish as the Phoenix stunned the Hammers who grabbed a late goal through their new recruit Mauro Zarate.

The former Sunderland reserve team captain looks a handy pick up as he begins his new life far away from the Stadium of Light in Wellington.

The Football United Tour is a four-team tournament that also features Sydney FC and Newcastle United.

And this Saturday, Phoenix face the Magpies with Gorrin on a high and poised to inflict pain on his old club’s most bitter rivals.

As a former Sunderland man, he’d love that.

“It was a dream debut to be honest. I couldn’t be any happier,” said the Spaniard, who has signed two-year deal with Wellington.

But Durante admits there could be some weary legs when his team take on United after just a couple of days’ rest and Durante admitted that was going to be tough.

“Mentally it’s not so hard to back up because we’re going to be pumped for another big game and hopefully a full house (at Westpac Stadium),” Durante said.

“But we’ll see how the legs handle another game.”

Durante doesn’t expect the game plan to change too much against Newcastle, who outclassed Sydney 4-0 in the Football United Tour opener in Dunedin on Tuesday night.

Against West Ham Phoenix were happy to press high on attack but they were able to soak up pressure when it was required too – something they struggled with last season.

“I’m sure [Newcastle] are going to dominate periods of the game so we’ll just have to make sure we’re defending well and compact,” the centre back said.

“We had a tough year of defending last year and we want to make amends for that. We’ve been working hard on our defensive shape.”

Saturday’s game is a double-header at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, with Sydney facing West Ham and Phoenix meeting the Magpies.

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