Questions might be raised about Winston Reid's absence from the upcoming 2017 Confederations Cup.

It's a huge setback for the team, and one that ultimately may prove the difference between getting a result in Russia and not.

It's also a sad case of deja vu for Reid, who missed New Zealand's last significant foray on the world stage, injuring his knee at West Ham training days before the first playoff game against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in November 2013.

No one is doubting the validity of his injury - a bone growth and calcification in his left knee - but why did West Ham continue to play him over the last month or so?

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He was only able to train the day before games for the London club for the last six weeks, and was experiencing significant pain when running or kicking a ball.

With time off, he may have been able to get through at least two games in Russia, likely to be a career highlight, then have the required surgery in late June after the tournament.

But that's the utopian view.

The answer is simple; the Hammers needed Reid on board to ensure they stayed out of the English Premier League relegation zone, after a difficult campaign in which they have struggled in their first season at the London Olympic Stadium

The 28-year-old is probably the best defender in the team - no one has managed more clearances, interceptions or blocks at West Ham this season - and the West London club pay his wages.

That's the unfortunate reality.

The silver lining is that Reid should be available for November's World Cup inter-confederation playoffs against the fifth-placed South American team, should the All Whites progress through the Oceania finals in August.

While it's nothing new for Reid to be absent from the national team - since playing seven matches in his debut international year in 2010 (including the World Cup) he has managed only 14 games since then - he'll leave a massive void.

Reid gave a reminder of his abilities against Mexico and the United States last year, when he was one of the best players on the field, with his organisation, composure and anticipation.

Like Ryan Nelsen used to, Reid makes other players around him significantly better and also brings so much off the field, especially for the younger members of Anthony Hudson's squad.

But there is genuine depth in the central defensive position, with Tommy Smith, Michael Boxall, Themi Tzimopoulos and Andrew Durante the main contenders.