The All Whites squad for home-and-away World Cup qualifiers against Fiji later this month was named last night, with coach Anthony Hudson calling it the strongest side he's ever named.

If that's the case, where is Kosta Barbarouses?

His omission is utterly baffling.

The Wellington Phoenix attacker has featured in 12 of the 15 games New Zealand have played since Hudson took over and 37 matches for the All Whites since debuting in 2008.


His form may have been a bit below what he would have liked this A-League season, but the goal he curled in against Perth on Saturday night was the work of a quality player - certainly one who should be in a 23-man All Whites squad.

The two new faces are brothers Jai and Dane Ingham.

Jai is a 23-year old attacker from Melbourne Victory, while Dane is 17 and has appeared just twice at fullback for Brisbane Roar this season.

There have been suggestions they've been included in order to prevent them playing for either Australia or Samoa, who they're also both eligible for.

I would hate to think that's the case, because these aren't meaningless friendlies. New Zealand has to get four points from these two games to ensure they qualify for the Oceania playoff, which leads into the intercontinental playoff later in the year.

Furthermore, there is major doubt over another All Whites regular Michael McGlinchey, who is included, despite starting just one game in the last eight weeks and not lasting 90 minutes since October, because of a niggling knee injury.

Even if the aim is to naturalise the Ingham boys, erring on the side of caution with McGlinchey, or leaving out one of the 10 defenders in this squad might have been a better idea than dropping a player like Barbarouses.

There are six central defenders in the side, more than enough to repel a side like Fiji across two games.

One of them is Tommy Smith, who is a welcome addition back into to the team, having not featured since 2014.

The bridge that was burned between he and Hudson a couple of years ago has clearly been mended and from all reports, he's 100 percent committed to New Zealand again and fully recovered from his recent back injury.

Shane Smeltz is also recalled and deservedly so after, his recent Wellington Phoenix form.

This team should be far too good for Fiji when they play them home and away later this month, but when the bigger games come around later in 2017, it would be astounding to think Kosta Barbarouses wouldn't be involved.