Soccer: Herbert opts for large squad

Ricki Herbert. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ricki Herbert. Photo / Brett Phibbs

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert will take a 23-man squad for New Zealand's football friendlies against Mexico and Australia next month, citing the quick turnaround for the size of the tour party.

The All Whites play Mexico at altitude in Denver on June 1 (June 2 NZT), before heading to Adelaide to face Australia on June 5.

The squad named today is the same in number as the one Herbert had at the World Cup finals in South Africa last year.

"Primarily, the depth of the squad is around the closeness of the games," Herbert said.

"It's going to be difficult to back everybody up, having to jump on a plane the next day."

Included are the uncapped pair of goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and forward Craig Henderson, who have both been called up for international duty before without getting on the field because of outside circumstances.

Gleeson, 20, was picked as back up to Glen Moss for the friendly against China in March, but was released to help his Major League Soccer club, Portland Timbers, through an injury crisis.

Herbert said Gleeson was likely to get some game time over the course of the upcoming two matches.

Henderson, who is with Swedish club Mjallby, was chosen for the pre-World Cup friendly against Mexico last year, but a ruptured cruciate ligament ruled him out of the trip.

Herbert said Henderson, 23, was an emerging talent and someone he would have definitely taken to South Africa, and it would be good to introduce him into the All Whites environment.

"He's not had a lot of football, but the most important thing is that we can get him in there and start working with him."

Ryan Nelsen, Rory Fallon, Leo Bertos and Jeremy Christie are all unavailable because of injury but Tim Brown, Ben Sigmund, Winston Reid, Mark Paston and Simon Elliott are fit again after missing the 1-1 draw with China.

With Nelsen out with a knee problem, Brown's return means he is likely to take the captain's armband, with Vicelich, who was the skipper against the Chinese, Brown's deputy.

While Paston is included, Herbert said the World Cup keeper wouldn't be rushed into action.

Paston hasn't played since suffering a knee injury during Wellington's A-League loss to Gold Coast United in December.

"He's back training in a general sense," Herbert said.

"We just have to be careful with that, but he's back."

The 13 Australia and New Zealand-based players in the squad assemble in Auckland next Tuesday and have a hit-out against a Waitakere United invitational 11 the following day as part of a five-day camp.

Herbert said it was likely that the starting 11 selected for that match would get the full 90 minutes on the park, while the bench would probably be augmented with some local players.

"If we need them, we need them, if we don't we don't," he said.

"I won't be in a rush to take players off the pitch. We would try to give them as much time as we can."

Squad:-

Goalkeepers: Jake Glesson (Portland Timbers), Glen Moss (Gold Coast United), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix). Defenders: Andrew Boyens (Chivas USA), Michael Boxall (Vancouver Whitecaps), Michael Fitzgerald (Albirex Niigata, Japan), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), Winston Reid (West Ham), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City). Midfielders: Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury United), Simon Elliott (Chivas USA), David Mulligan (Auckland City), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory). Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses (Brisbane Roar), Craig Henderson (Mjallby - Sweden), Chris Killen (Shenzhen Ruby - China), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion). Non-travelling reserves: Kris Bright (Budapest Honved - Hungary), Cole Peverley (Charleston Battery - USA), Luke Rowe (Birmingham City). Not considered because of injury: Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Christie (Tampa Bay - USA), Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers).

- NZPA

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