Soccer: Reid and Nelsen to play against China

By Michael Brown

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is expected to name an unchanged squad for next week's international against China in Shanghai. Photo / Getty Images.
All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is expected to name an unchanged squad for next week's international against China in Shanghai. Photo / Getty Images.

Ricki Herbert has kept the faith with the squad who have delivered four wins from four starts in Fifa World Cup qualifying recently in naming his team to meet China in a friendly match in Shanghai next week.

If selected, Leo Bertos and skipper Ryan Nelsen are poised to make their 50th `A' international appearances in the game that will kick off at 7.30pm on Wednesday (12.30am Thursday morning, NZT) at the Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium.

All of Herbert's overseas professionals have been called up for the match although China-based striker Chris Killen's domestic season has finished and he will not travel due to personal commitments.

The only injury concern surrounds striker Shane Smeltz who has been sidelined with a hamstring strain since the All Whites' 3-0 win over Tahiti in Christchurch last month.

Smeltz's goal in Papeete took him to outright second in the all-time goal scorers list with 23 goals, while Chris Wood and Marco Rojas are in good goal scoring form for their respective clubs.

Wood has scored five in his last three matches for Millwall, while Rojas is joint leader in the A-League golden boot race with four goals.

Michael McGlinchey has continued his good form from his last All Whites outing with his Central Coast Mariners side and was influential in their 7-2 mauling of Sydney FC over the weekend.

Herbert said continuity was paramount to success and now has significant experience to call on for All Whites internationals.

"We haven't made any personnel changes but we may look to tinker our formation or try one or two new things in this match,'' said Herbert.

"We've got good experience in the group now with Ryan and Leo set to make 50 appearances. Behind them we've got a group of players like Lochhead, Smeltz and Killen who are approaching that milestone as well, with Ivan [Vicelich] nearing three figures.''

The China match is the last international for the year, with the All Whites due to play New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands in March.

No decision has been made on activity during the Fifa window scheduled on Waitangi Day, so Herbert is keen to get his charges together before the campaign-defining March fixtures.

"This could be the last time we get the group together before the last Oceania matches so it's important to maintain that familiarity with each other.''

New Zealand currently leads the four-team Oceania qualifying group with the winner progressing to a two-legged intercontinental playoff against a North and Central American nation for a place at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

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

- APNZ

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