Thomas, who plays his club football with Dutch Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle, will play on the left side of the New Zealand midfield with his long-time friend and fellow team mate Boyd (Wellington Phoenix) named to start up front alongside Leicester City FC’s striker Chris Wood.
In the back four, Michael Boxall (Wellington Phoenix) will make his first All Whites appearance since 2012, while Blackburn Rovers’ Tim Payne will play in front of the New Zealand defensive group.
All Whites interim head coach Neil Emblen says the side has been picked for a dual purpose; attack with pace when the opportunity arises and pester and stifle their 50th ranked opponents when the Blue Samurai have possession.
“We want to defend from the front so we are putting out attacking minded and forward thinking players but within that they’ve got to know their defensive structure,” Emblen said.
“It is an attacking looking team and I want us to try and create chances and try and score some goals but also at the same time stay hard to beat, keep a good shape and make it hard to be played through in the middle of pitch.”
Emblen backed his young team, which also includes four other players with less than 10 caps – Storm Roux, Bill Tuiloma, Boxall and Payne, to produce against a top level opponent bound for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil later this year.
“It’s exciting, they’ve all got good pace and tempo to their games, the way they close people down, the way they use the ball and manipulate the ball and try to create 2v1 situations with their pace is an exciting prospect for us.
“The players we’ve picked are similar to the Japan players in my eyes,” Emblen said.
“I’ve picked players who replicate the Japanese style. They play the way I want us to try and play and I want our players to go and express themselves but be responsible at the same time.
“I think everybody will look after each other. There is inexperience around but everybody will look out for each other and try and make Wednesday night a successful performance.
“We want it to be a good experience and to do that we need to work hard first and foremost and hopefully the quality and the result will come through.”
Wednesday night’s encounter brings together the two teams after their original meeting was cancelled as a result of the earthquake which struck Japan in 2011 while New Zealand suffered its own tragedy in Christchurch in the same year, something Emblen acknowledged on Tuesday.
“It’s more than just a football match. It showcases the togetherness and spirit of two nations which have suffered the same heartbreak. We are proud to be here to play a part in the game tomorrow.”
Wednesday’s game is the final match at the venue in Japan with the stadium set to be rebuilt ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
New Zealand (4-1-3-2): 1. Glen Moss (GK – capt), 6. Bill Tuiloma, 7. Tyler Boyd, 8. Michael McGlinchey, 14. Ryan Thomas, 15. Storm Roux, 17. Kosta Barbarouses, 18. Tim Payne, 19. Michael Boxall, 20. Chris Wood, 22. Andrew Durante
Substitutes: 4. Ben Sigmund, 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Rory Fallon, 12. Jacob Spoonley (GK), 13. Chris James, 16. Jeremy Brockie, 21. Cameron Howieson
Japan v New Zealand
Wednesday 5 March, 2014
National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo
LIVE SKY Sport One, 11.40pm (NZ time)