Steven Holloway is the football writer for the NZ Herald.

Soccer: Big stars to miss All Whites match

Winston Reid will not return for the All Whites match against South Africa. Photo / Richard Robinson
Winston Reid will not return for the All Whites match against South Africa. Photo / Richard Robinson

The All Whites will be without their three top English-based players when they take on South Africa in Auckland later this month.

West Ham's Winston Reid, Ispwich Town's Tommy Smith and Leicester City striker Chris Wood have all elected not to return for the match, which falls outside FIFA's international window.

While All Whites fans may be frustrated by the absence of senior pros, they will be excited by the prospect of a home debut for rising star Ryan Thomas and the return of Marco Rojas.

Fresh from his match-winning double in the Dutch Cup Final against Ajax, Thomas is part of a full strength midfield that welcomes back Stuttgart's Rojas, who had to withdraw from last month's international in Japan through injury.

Two new uncapped players also make the cut with New Zealand U-20 midfielder Matt Ridenton earning his first call up and former Junior All Whites captain Luke Adams handed a chance to step up to senior level.

Adams, who is also eligible for the next Olympic cycle, is a direct replacement for Ben Sigmund who is carrying a niggling injury from the latter stages of the A-League season.

After captaining New Zealand in last year's World Cup qualifier against Mexico, Smith skipped the 4-2 loss to Japan in March to focus on his club career. Smith has played 4,1400 minutes of football over 46 games this season for Leicester and last week he told that 'the body has had a long season and needs a rest.'

"The people in New Zealand are happy with that," he said. "I think they understand the rigours, especially the interim coach, Neil Emblen. He has played in the league so he knows and he understands completely. As much as they'd like me to be there they can understand where I'm coming from."

Wood's recently promoted Leicester City have their final game of the season against Doncaster this weekend, and has chosen to 'rest' in his offseason, as he prepares for a Premier League preseason.

Reid has recently returned from an ankle injury which kept him out of action for the majority of this year and will also remain in England.

Elsewhere the squad is largely unchanged from the Tokyo trip as New Zealand Football continue to invest in players with qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in mind.

With six teenagers named in the squad and another five aged 25 or under interim All Whites coach Neil Emblen is looking to build on the positive aspects taken from the defeat to Japan

"As a coach you're excited by the attacking options we have now and the speed of movement and passing that we showed at times last month against a very good side off to a World Cup," Emblen said.

All Whites squad - international v South Africa (Caps/Goals/Club)
Glen Moss (captain - 27/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Tamati Williams (0/0, Auckland City)
Luke Adams (0/0, Unattached)
Michael Boxall (8/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Andrew Durante (7/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Storm Roux (2/0, Central Coast Mariners, AUS)
Bill Tuiloma (3/0, Olympique de Marseille, FRA)
Cameron Howieson (7/0, Burnley, ENG)
Chris James (17/2, unattached)
Michael McGlinchey (26/3, Vegalta Sendai, JPN)
Matt RidentoN (0/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Marco Rojas (17/1,Vfb Stuttgart, GER)
Tim Payne (9/2, Blackburn Rovers, ENG)
Ryan Thomas (1/0, PEC Zwolle, NED)
Kosta Barbarouses (25/2, Melbourne Victory, AUS)
Tyler Boyd (1/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Jeremy Brockie (43/0, Wellington Phoenix)
Shane Smeltz (50/23, Perth Glory, AUS)

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