All Whites head coach Fritz Schmid has named a new-look squad for his first tour in charge of the national team.
Schmid has selected a 24-man squad for the international friendly with World No 89 Canada in Spain which includes six new players in goalkeeper Nik Tzanev, defenders Nikko Boxall and Adam Mitchell, attacking midfielders Niko Kirwan and Sarpreet Singh and forward Andre De Jong.
There are also three players – Tim Payne, Matt Ridenton and Cameron Howieson – who are recalled to the national squad after long absences.
Schmid, who became the 17th All Whites Head Coach earlier this month, is happy with the balance of his squad as he gets ready to face Canada at the Pinatar Arena on Sunday 25 March (NZT).
"The squad offers a good mix of experienced players, new players and some who are returning to the environment. It is confirming our intention to take a good look at all of the potential All Whites because that will be the task in the next months. Not only here in the Spain camp but throughout the next few windows," he said.
Schmid said it has been a busy time since he was appointed All Whites Head Coach at the start of the month. He has had a lot of phone calls, meetings and discussions with the players to understand where they are at, their ambitions and where they stand in their career plans.
"I wanted to see their commitment to the national team. I have met some of them face to face, obviously not all of them, so this will be an important thing to do sooner than later. At the end of it, it was an opportunity to get a good picture."
Schmid has selected three uncapped goalkeepers in Max Crocombe, Michael Woud and Nik Tzanev, who are all based in England, as this tour presented an opportunity to look at their potential.
"We know that Canada will have a very strong squad and will present a tough challenge for us in Spain. That is the best thing to look forward to. To offer these players a real opportunity to show where we can go from here and start our World Cup cycle."
There are a number of established players who have not been selected for this international window – the likes of Chris Wood, Stefan Marinovic, Bill Tuiloma, Kosta Barbarouses, Deklan Wynne, Kip Colvey and Tommy Smith – and Schmid said that after sharing their career plans and ambitions in their respective clubs, he understood that they had other priorities to consider.
"We know what all of those players can offer the national team. They are not selected for this window, but they all know that they are on my watch-list and that they will be offered an opportunity to prove their value in due time."
Schmid is looking forward to getting into camp this weekend in Spain and start his first tour as the Head Coach of the national team.
In the absence of Wood and Winston Reid (injury), Schmid said the captain for the All Whites on this tour was still to be determined.
All Whites squad to face Canada in Spain:
Max Crocombe (Salford City)
Michael Woud (Sunderland)
Nik Tzanev (Wimbledon)
Michael Boxall (Minnesota United)
Nikko Boxall (Viborg FF)
Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners)
Adam Mitchell (Bolton Wanderers)
Sam Brotherton (Sunderland)
Tom Doyle (Wellington Phoenix)
Dane Ingham (Brisbane Roar)
Themis Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina)
Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix)
Matt Ridenton (Wellington Phoenix)
Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle)
Sarpreet Singh (Wellington Phoenix)
Tim Payne (Eastern Suburbs)
Niko Kirwan (AC Mestre)
Cam Howieson (Auckland City)
Clayton Lewis (Scunthorpe United)
Alex Rufer (Wellington Phoenix)
Myer Bevan (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Jeremy Brockie (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Andre De Jong (Hakoah)
Marco Rojas (SC Heerenveen)
All Whites v Canada International Friendly
When: 25 March, 4am (NZT)
Where: Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain