The player at the centre of the eligibility saga that cost New Zealand Football a berth at this year's Olympic Games has admitted he feared he would never play for the All Whites again.

South African-born Deklan Wynne is one of the early arrivals into the All Whites camp in Auckland today as Anthony Hudson's squad begins preparations for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia at Albany.

"It did cross my mind but I knew it was in the hands of New Zealand Football," Wynne told reporters today as he joined up with the squad which will be further bolstered by the arrival of overseas-based professionals in the next day.

"To go through all of that and still be here and still be able to play for New Zealand, it means a lot to me."


Wynne was referring to his stint with the New Zealand Under 20s during the World Cup in 2015 where he turned out against the Ukraine, USA, Myanmar and Portugal.

Two months after the tournament, the talented defender was named in the Oly-Whites (New Zealand's national under 23 team) chasing qualification for Rio. He played in the final group stage game - ironically against New Caledonia - and also in New Zealand's 2-0 semi-final win over Vanuatu.

But after that game, Vanuatu lodged a protest that Wynne was ineligible to play in the Olympic qualifying games because of nationality issues.

NZF tried unsuccessfully to appeal and the unseemly saga ruled the Oly-Whites out of Rio.

Wynne, who plays for Whitecaps FC in the United Soccer League which is the second tier competition in the US, appears to have put the drama behind him.

"If Anthony chooses to play me (on Saturday), I'll give 100 per cent," he pledged.

Wynne's domestic season in the States has just wound up with the Whitecaps losing their conference final.

Aiming to make the All Whites left back position his own, Wynne said he had been working hard in the past couple of weeks to keep his fitness levels up.

After having emigrated to New Zealand with his parents in 2010 as a 14-year-old, Wynne first represented his new country at a senior level when he turned out against China in 2014 after injuries to Louis Fenton and Tom Doyle.

Wynne set up Chris Wood's equaliser in the 1-all draw.

He played against Thailand four days later and in 2015 won selection against South Korea just ahead of the Oly-Whites selection drama.

Earlier this year, NZF successfully applied for Wynne to be granted an exemption from the Fifa eligibility requirements, clearing the way for him to be called into Hudson's squad.

"Playing in the (under 20s) World Cup definitely gave me a taste of what it's going to be like in this team. I'm really looking forward to playing in front of home fans and my family. It's a big honour and I'm just really pleased I was chosen," he said.

"It's a big week ahead. We all know how important this game is and that we have to win. It will be good when everybody gets here but it's been good to get going."

Meanwhile, NZF chief executive Andy Martin has called upon local football fans to support Saturday's match.

Officials are hoping for a crowd of around 10,000 but ticket sales have been sluggish to date.