Soccer: Herbert names unchanged squad

Ricki Herbert has kept faith with the squad who notched two wins in their opening matches of the third stage of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Photo / Getty Images.
Ricki Herbert has kept faith with the squad who notched two wins in their opening matches of the third stage of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Photo / Getty Images.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert has kept faith with the squad who notched two wins in their opening matches of the third stage of their World Cup qualifying campaign for their upcoming double header against Tahiti.

The All Whites play the Oceania champions in Papeete on October 12 before a return fixture in Christchurch four days later in what could be Ryan Nelsen's 50th A international.

Herbert has called on his full range of overseas professionals for the two matches, with the only real concern over Winston Reid, who was forced from the field after a heavy clash of heads in West Ham's win over Nelsen's QPR earlier this week.

Reid has publicly confirmed he will be available for the Tahiti matches and is expected to line up in West Ham's match with Arsenal this weekend.

Nelsen will again lead the side and, barring injury in QPR's fixture at West Bromwich Albion or Papeete, should mark his half century milestone in front of his home crowd at AMI Stadium.

Striker Shane Smeltz is closing in on Vaughan Covney's national record of 28 goals. Smeltz scored two goals in the last two games to draw level with former All Whites skipper Steve Sumner on 22.

Chris Wood's rich vein of form continued and he's scored seven goals in his last six internationals.

All of the 18-man squad were a part of the September matches with New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, but with the majority of players likely to feature in matches over the weekend Herbert will watch the action unfold with some trepidation and hope for a clean bill of health when the team assembles in Auckland on Tuesday.

"Injuries are something we can't control and it's always in the back of your mind. Hopefully we are 100 per cent injury free after the weekend's matches and we can keep moving forward with the same settled squad," said Herbert.

Following October's matches, the All Whites play New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands again in March with the winner of the four-team round robin progressing to a two-legged intercontinental playoff against a North and Central American nation for a place at the 2014 World Cup.

New Zealand squad: Glen Moss, Mark Paston, Tony Lochhead, Ryan Nelsen (c), Winston Reid, Ben Sigmund, Tommy Smith, Leo Bertos, Dan Keat, Michael McGlinchey, Tim Payne, Marco Rojas, Ivan Vicelich, Kosta Barbarouses, Jeremy Brockie, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood.

- APNZ

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