|By PADDY HIGGS
Western Sydney Wanderers have tied up the immediate future of in-form winger Youssouf Hersi, agreeing a one-year extension with the Dutchman.
Hersi has emerged as one of the foreign signings of the 2012-13 A-League season, scoring four times and providing six assists since signing for the fledgling club in September.
Questions were raised on where his future may lie after a starring role in Sunday's 4-2 win over Adelaide United, in which he claimed a brace and set up another goal.
But the Wanderers have warded off any interest from rival clubs by agreeing a contract with Hersi until the end of the 2013-14 A-League season.
"I am very happy to be in Australia and to be a part of this club," Hersi said via club statement. "I enjoy every minute here and that is one of the main reasons I want to stay.
"The crowd and the supporters at Parramatta Stadium are fantastic.
"They enjoy watching us play so much it just makes me so happy. When I see how much they want us to win I just keep pushing and keep running cause I can’t let them down. I don't want to lose one game."
Formerly of AEK Athens, Ajax and FC Twente, Ethiopia-born Hersi had not played a competitive match in over seven months due to a serious knee injury when he arrived in Australian to trial with the Wanderers.
But, after regaining full fitness, he has emerged as a key man in Western Sydney's rise to third on the A-League table.
"Ante [Milicic, assistant coach] and I saw there were qualities in him," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
"We knew it would take him time to adjust but with his tremendous work rate he has progressed very well into an integral part of our squad.
"I think he is really enjoying his football and we are enjoying having him here."
Elsewhere, Sydney FC utility Rhyan Grant has been announced as the latest nomination for the FFA's 2012-13 A-League Young Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old has played a superb part in the Sky Blues' return to form in January, and joins Marco Rojas and Craig Goodwin as fellow nominees for the final award.