Football: Ryan Thomas confident injury bug is beaten

Ryan Thomas of New Zealand reacts after missing a chance. Photo / Photosport
Ryan Thomas of New Zealand reacts after missing a chance. Photo / Photosport

All Whites midfielder Ryan Thomas is confident the injury curse is behind him.

The talented Dutch-based 21-year-old missed New Zealand's recent trek to the United States for matches against their national team and Mexico after a torn thigh muscle ruled him out at the last minute.

"I was literally a couple of days away from being fit for it," he said today at All Whites training in Auckland ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia.

"I got a knee to my thigh which ended up causing a little tear and creating the muscle injury I had.

"I could have come but then I might have only played the last 10 minutes in the final game. We really didn't want that. We wanted to make sure I was completely fit for this campaign.

"I wanted to make sure I was fit for the (World Cup) qualifiers. That was the main focus after the two surgeries on my knee. I've been close contact with (coach) Anthony Hudson about the tours and all these things

"Getting a little injury just before the last window was a bit annoying but we thought it was best to stay put, get fit and be able to come to this one."

And that he is, despite two surgeries on his knee which has dramatically curtailed his time at international level.

Thomas went to Holland four years ago and last played for the All Whites against South Africa in 2014 before running into a string of injuries.

He burst onto the sporting public's consciousness that same year when he scored two goals for PEC Zwolle in a dramatic 5-1 win over Dutch giants AFC Ajax in the KNVB Cup.

Despite only having two caps, Thomas looks like a long-term national team prospect and was thrilled to be back in the All Whites' fold where he says he has seen an increased commitment and professionalism from players under Hudson's tutelage.

"It's good to be back involved with everyone - I just wanted to get back after having such a long break off," he said.

"I'll be able to play in front of my family at home for the first time in a few years. It's even nicer to come back and just spend time with them before the game, and then having them watch me play is also really good for me.

"I haven't been on tour for a year now but I could see straight away the togetherness and camaraderie of the boys now, and everyone knowing what we have to do to win. It's changed a lot from the last time I was here."

Thomas made his All Whites debut in a 4-2 loss to Japan in 2014, said he is still finding his way in the national team and is reluctant to be painted as a leader.

"I'm 21 so I'm still really young," he said. "So I don't really see myself as much of a leader in things like standing up and talking in meetings and things like that. I'm not quite there yet. So right now I just want to show what I can do on the field and let my play do my talking, and lead the boys in that way."

"I'm after as much game time as I can, especially at home. It's about getting as many minutes as possible," he said.

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