All Whites changes unlikely for Paraguay

New Zealand soccer coach Ricki Herbert is likely to retain the same side which featured in 1-1 draws with Slovakia and Italy for their key World Cup match against group leaders Paraguay on Friday morning (NZT).

Herbert said combative midfielder Tim Brown had not fully recovered from a shoulder injury but he was more than happy with Ivan Vicelich's performance alongside playmaker Simon Elliott.

"I don't think so," Herbert replied when asked at a press conference this morning if there would be any changes to his starting lineup for the final group match.

"We are what we are - we have had long nights and debates over who should play."

Mark Paston's form will see him remain in goal despite Glen Moss' availability after serving a four-match suspension.

Paston, 33, has only been beaten once from open play, against Slovakia. Italy scored from a debatable penalty in a 1-1 draw yesterday.

"There is a shade of the future in this team and Glen (Moss) is going to play a big part in it but Mark (Paston) will start against Paraguay, it's simple," Herbert said .

"It's the reality of where the team sits at the moment. The position we're in and the performances of the player (Paston).

Herbert was unsure whether Brown would be a hundred per cent.

"I would love to give him some time on the pitch against Paraguay but this is not the time for emotions.

"Having Ivan in midfield I think has really solidified things, I think, going with experience in there."

While Jeremy Christie gave the team the energy "we need at the back end of the games", Herbert said.

New Zealand have two points after two matches and will need to beat Paraguay to confirm a place in the quarterfinals.

They sit on two points in Group F, level with Italy and one ahead of Slovakia. Paraguay lead with four points, but a win for the All Whites would see them to five points, qualifying for the next round.

Another draw could also be enough, depending on the result of the Italy-Slovakia match.

- NZPA

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