All Whites: Wood and Brockie bolster strike force

Chris Wood. Photo / Getty Images.
Chris Wood. Photo / Getty Images.

The offensive stocks of the All Whites have been bolstered with captain Chris Wood linking up with his team mates in Brisbane and Jeremy Brockie receiving a late call-up to the squad.

Wood has not taken long to make his mark - scoring the winner in a 1-0 success over club side Redlands United in a behind-closed-doors training match yesterday - while Brockie also has much to offer after being in fine goal-scoring form for South African outfit SuperSport United.

Coach Anthony Hudson is delighted to have the sharp-shooting pair on board and says they will add a lot to the All Whites fold for the upcoming OFC Nations Cup, which kicks off on Saturday in Papua New Guinea.

"I don't think we can overestimate how much it means for a player like Chris to be coming in," he says.

"It's a difficult time of the season for him but he's come in and is probably the fittest he has ever been in his career.

It's the best I've seen him in his approach to the team and the tournament - that's a real credit to him and is a great example to the rest of the players."

Wood, 24, is likely to lead the line as New Zealand look to qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and could be joined by Brockie, who is now fighting for a starting place with the likes of Kosta Barbarouses, Rory Fallon, Marco Rojas and Shane Smeltz.

Hudson also has talented youngsters Monty Patterson and Logan Rogerson at his disposal and is pleased to have added Brockie to his extensive attacking options.

"It was a difficult choice to leave him out originally and it was a hard phone call to make," he says.

"He loves playing for his country and he gives everything. So the fact that an opportunity has come up and he's coming back is something we're excited about."

The 28-year-old has been a regular feature on the scoresheet for SuperSport United in this season's South African Premier Soccer League and will be hoping to add significantly to his All Whites tally in Papua New Guinea.

But Hudson says his attributes away from the pitch will bring just as much to the All Whites environment.

"He's another really good character to have in the group, he's brilliant to have around," he says.

"We're going to be away for a long time and it will be challenging and tough. He's going to bring his own personality and character - in these tournaments you need that."

With Saturday's opening match against Fiji now just days away, preparations for the Nations Cup are entering their final stage and Hudson is delighted with the progress that has been made.

"Overall, the camp has been very good," he says of the squad's time in Australia.

"We've really pushed the players and they've responded really well - they've got on with everything that's been in front of them."

Hudson says the performance against Redlands was one of the best the team has put in since he's been in charge with a wealth of goal-scoring opportunities created.

That will now be the final hit-out in a game situation before the cup kicks off as a further training match, originally scheduled for Tuesday evening against Brisbane City, has been cancelled.

"Michael McGlinchey and Matt Ridenton both have injuries they are looking to get rid of for the tournament and we also have a few players that won't be joining us until we get to Papua New Guinea," Hudson says.

"We are also due to leave early on the Wednesday morning so, with all that considered, we felt it wasn't best to go ahead with playing a game on Tuesday night. It's now about making sure we're fresh and ready for the game on Saturday."

New Zealand have the honour of opening the OFC Nations Cup when they take on Group B opponents Fiji from 4pm local time (6pm NZT) at Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday 28 May.

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