Soccer: Keat only newcomer in All Whites squad

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

Dan Keat is the notable inclusion in the All Whites squad for the international friendly against Jamaica later this month.

The 24-year-old is the only newcomer to the 18-man squad which will be captained by new Spurs signing Ryan Nelsen.

It contains a number of players who helped New Zealand to an undefeated run at the 2010 World Cup but is also sprinkled with the next generation who will be charged with attempting to qualify for consecutive World Cups.

Defender Ivan Vicelich is the most experienced player with 73 caps but missing are striker Rory Fallon and midfielder Simon Elliott.

Coach Ricki Herbert is awash with options up front and opted for Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood, Chris Killen and Kosta Barbarouses to face Jamaica but Fallon, who scored the goal against Bahrain to get the All Whites to the World Cup, remains a consideration because of his added height and ability in the air.

Elliott wasn't included due to a hernia complaint but it's unlikely the 37-year-old would have been selected anyway given coach Ricki Herbert's desire to run his eye over a player like Keat before the upcoming first round of the World Cup qualifiers in June. He knows what Elliott can do and is still in the wider All Whites squad but the match against Jamaica is the last before the World Cup qualifying tournament.

The likes of Andy Boyens, Jeremy Christie, Aaron Clapham and David Mulligan are all missing, along with recent call ups like Craig Henderson, Michael Boxall and Michael Fitzgerald. Goalkeeper Glen Moss is unavailable with a torn abductor muscle, meaning Jake Gleeson joins Mark Paston in the squad.

"I don't think a New Zealand coach has ever named a team where so many overseas pros have been left out and it has certainly been a hard squad to whittle down to just 18 players'' Herbert said.

"When everyone is fit, it's clear I have some very tough choices to make and they are choices I don't make lightly. There are players not making this trip who have given a great deal to the success of the national team and will certainly do so again in the future.

"The desire to represent New Zealand has always been high within this group and the healthy competition will continue through to starting spots.

"We've got players who performed at the World Cup, and others have forced their way in with their form for club or country in the time since then. It's a squad we think can send a message to Concacaf.''

"There are a couple of young players I need to take another look at it and this will be our only chance to run our eye over Dan Keat before the qualifiers.''

Keat captained New Zealand at the 2007 under-20 World Cup and also played in the 2008 Olympics campaign - he missed the Olympics due to injury - and is a player who has been on Herbert's radar. He was picked last year up by the Los Angeles Galaxy as the No 3 selection in Major League Soccer's supplemental draft to play alongside luminaries like David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel.

They might not have such global recognition as his club teammates but soon Keat will call the likes of Ryan Nelsen, Shane Smeltz and Winston Reid teammates.

All Whites squad to play Jamaica in the international friendly football match at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, on February 29:

Goalkeepers: Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers, USA), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix).

Defenders: Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (captain, Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), Winston Reid (West Ham, ENG), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town, ENG), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City).

Midfielders: Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets, AUS), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Dan Keat (Los Angeles Galaxy, USA), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners, AUS), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory, AUS).

Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses (Alania Vladikavkaz, RUS), Chris Killen (Shenzhen Ruby, CHN), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory, AUS), Chris Wood (Bristol City, ENG).

- APNZ

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