All Whites captain Winston Reid and forward Monty Patterson have been ruled out of the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.
Reid, the West Ham United defender, was looking forward to playing in his first FIFA World Cup qualifiers for New Zealand but he limped off the field in the 18th minute in West Ham’s 3-2 loss to Leicester City. He will miss the home and away qualifiers with an abductor injury.
All Whites coach Anthony Hudson spoke with Reid briefly following the game and the news wasn’t good.
“It looks like he has injured his groin,” said Hudson. “He will have a scan [Monday NZ time] but it looked bad.”
Hudson will not replace Reid in the squad and said in-form striker Chris Wood will captain the side in Reid’s absence. It will be business as usual for the rest of the squad.
“It’s disappointing he is not coming because he is such an important player, he is a great character and I know how much he was looking forward to being here. I hope he gets fit really soon.
“But with regards to the team we have been in this position many times. We have got a good squad, we are adaptable and we have enough in this squad to deal with this tour so we are prepared for this.”
Meanwhile, Patterson has failed to overcome a hamstring injury and will also miss the tour.
The 20-year-old, who plays for Ipswich Town FC in the Championship, will be replaced by Alex Rufer in the squad for the OFC Stage Three Qualifiers.
Rufer, an attacking midfielder from the Wellington Phoenix, has earned two international caps since making his debut for New Zealand back in 2015.
Hudson said it was a shame for Patterson who has developed well in recent time, including scoring his maiden international goal against the USA last October.
“I’m gutted for Monty as I know he was really looking forward to meeting up with the national team,” said Hudson.
“But as always, it becomes an opportunity for someone else. I’m pleased to bring Alex in and he’s a natural replacement in midfield. I’m well aware of his quality, and when I saw him train down at the Phoenix a while back he was one of the best players on the pitch. Everyone I speak to down there tells me how well he’s been doing too. So I’m glad he’s back involved.”
The All Whites have begun assembling in Wellington for a four day training camp ahead of facing Fiji on 25 March in Lautoka. The return home leg is in Wellington on Tuesday 28 March.
All Whites v Fiji – OFC Stage Three Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
When: Saturday 25 March, kick off 1pm (2pm NZ time)
Where: Churchill Park, Lautoka, Fiji
When: Tuesday 28 March, kick off 7.35pm
Where: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand