Phoenix hit by Sail, Lewis and Ugarkovic departures

Wellington Phoenix have been rocked by the impending departure of three of their best players at season's end, and cannot guarantee coach Ufuk Talay will not join them.

On Friday, the club announced New Zealand international goalkeeper Oli Sail, fellow All White Clayton Lewis and league stalwart Steven Ugarkovic would not be renewing their deals to stay.

Football director Shaun Gill confessed it would be "hard to replace" the three, while vowing their departure would not trigger a club clear-out.

"It's always disappointing to lose players who are starting-quality A-League players," he said.

"At the same time, players have aspirations and they need to do what is right for them.

"Fans can rest assured that the core of the men's squad will be sticking around for the 2023-24 A-League season and beyond.

"Other players - New Zealand players overseas that we keep tabs (on) - some of these guys might come back. So one door closes and another door opens."

New Zealand's sole A-League outfit may be facing a major overhaul this off-season, with coach Talay also out of contract and unable to give guarantees on his future.

Gill said discussions are ongoing with Talay to extend beyond his existing four-year COVID-ravaged tenure, which has included two finals appearances.

Talay was vague on his intentions, saying only he "can't predict the future" but that he had enjoyed "good chats" with chairman Rob Morrison.

The Sydney-raised coach was a candidate to take over the national side, a job he would have done in tandem with his Wellington role, only for NZ Football to turn him down.

The player announcement comes after online rumours linking Sail, 27, with Perth Glory.

Sail has been at the club for almost a decade, breaking through to the first team under Talay and excelling as a courageous first-choice keeper.

Lewis and Ugarkovic, the club's holding midfielders, were both lured to New Zealand by Talay.

Lewis, 26, has been with the club for three seasons and local news outlet Stuff reported he was fielding offers from clubs including Macarthur FC.

Ugarkovic, 28, who joined last year on a one-season deal without expectations of extending, is poised to sign for league leaders Melbourne City.

The announcement comes ahead of Wellington hosting Newcastle Jets on Saturday, a crunch clash in the race for finals.

Talay said he would continue to pick the departing trio - with Lewis eyeing a return from a kneecap fracture later this month - as they look to win the club's first A-League silverware.

"We've got a goal, we've got an aim to finish in the highest position we possibly can," he said.

"They're signed with Wellington Phoenix, they're getting paid by Wellington Phoenix, so their job is to go out there and do the best job they possibly can."

Wellington, in fifth, will miss Sam Sutton (hamstring) for the clash against the seventh-placed Jets, but Newcastle loanee Lucas Mauragis is eligible.