Skipper Winston Reid has been ruled out of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia, robbing the All Whites of their best player.
Reid's absence is one notable feature of the squad named by Anthony Hudson to tackle New Caledonia in Auckland on November 12 and the return game in New Caledonia three days later.
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle, Netherlands), Bill Tuiloma (Marseille, France) and Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix) return to the international fold and Chris Wood will captain the side in Reid's absence.
Controversial defender Tommy Smith, who will be welcomed back into the squad after international exile, wasn't available after recent back surgery.
Reid has been ruled out of the fixtures against New Caledonia after suffering a hamstring injury in the loss against Everton last weekend.
"We have a good squad of players who are more than capable of doing the job for this window," said Hudson. "We have built enough depth in our squad over a period time to deal with situations like this. We are comfortable now that we have players who can come in and do a job. We have a very good squad coming to New Zealand and we are looking forward to these games."
The All Whites have been grouped with New Caledonia and Fiji in Group A, with the winner taking on the top side out of Group B, which features Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and the Solomon Islands. The nation to emerge from Oceania's qualifying group will then take on the fifth-best side from South America, presently Chile (Argentina are sixth), for a place at the 2018 World Cup.
The loss of Reid is a blow, especially given his form for West Ham in the English Premier League, but it's partially offset by the returns from injury of Thomas and Tuiloma. Moss also returns after being controversially overlooked for the recent tour of the United States and comes in for Jake Gleeson, who was recently charged with drink driving.
Moss, who has played 29 internationals for New Zealand since making his debut in 2006, made a special visit to Auckland to meet with Hudson to tell him how much he wanted to be back in the team.
"It showed how much playing for New Zealand means to him," Hudson said. "You don't often get guys flying around the country to sit down and say how much they want to play for New Zealand. "He has never been out of contention for us. He has always been part of my thinking so we are really pleased to bring back an experienced professional and a good character into the group."
Next weekend's game at North Harbour Stadium is the first time the All Whites have played at home since taking on South Africa in May 2014 and will be the first fixture for Hudson in New Zealand. Despite good recent results against Mexico (1-2) and the US (1-1), Hudson is wary of New Caledonia.
"I think they are the best of the Island teams," he said. "In the last two times the All Whites have played them, we won one and they won one, and in that game we weren't at our best but credit to New Caledonia I thought they were very strong.
They are a strong team and they have some very, very good individual players. They have some guys playing in Europe and a good European coach. It will be a tough game and like any game we will treat them with respect and prepare properly."
All Whites squad to play New Caledonia on November 12 and 15
Stefan Marinovic (SpVgg Unterhaching, Germany) 10, 0
Tamati Williams (RKC Waalwijk, Netherlands) 1, 0
Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 29, 0
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 11, 0
Bill Tuiloma (Marseille, France) 13, 0
Louis Fenton (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 7, 0
Thomas Doyle (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 3, 0
Michael Boxall (SuperSport Utd, South Africa) 19, 0
Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes FC, USA) 6, 0
Themi Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina FC, Greece) 8, 1
Deklan Wynne (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Canada) 4, 0
Liam Graham (Chesterfield FC, England) 2, 0
Clayton Lewis (Auckland City FC, New Zealand) 5, 0
Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 40, 4
Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi (Auckland City FC, New Zealand) 3, 0
Moses Dyer (Eastern Suburbs AFC, New Zealand) 6, 0
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle, Netherlands) 5, 0
Henry Cameron (Blackpool FC, England) 2, 0
Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand) 35, 3
Chris Wood (Leeds Utd, England) 44, 18
Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town FC, England) 7, 1
Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory FC, Australia) 28, 2
Rory Fallon (Truro City FC, England) 24, 6