Kiwis call up teen for South Africa
© Foto-net

New Zealand has named 17-year-old West Bromwich Albion striker Chris Wood in its squad for next month's FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.

Wood made his English Premiership debut last month as a substitute against Portsmouth and New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has been closely following his progress.

"When I first took the job in 2005, I said age wasn't a barrier to selection, and that if we found a young guy we thought was good enough, we'd put him in the team," Herbert said.

"Chris has gone to a good club, spent a decent amount of time in a very competitive environment and been good enough to pave his way through to coming off the bench in a Premier League game. That speaks volumes and he thoroughly justifies his place in the squad."

Wood joins an experienced core of players in the 23-man squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup, which starts on 14 June. The team will be led by Blackburn Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen, who was part of both New Zealand's previous FIFA Confederations Cup campaigns in 1999 and 2003.

Joining him are Simon Elliott, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz, Duncan Oughton, David Mulligan and Mark Paston, who were part of the 2003 All Whites squad in France. New Zealand will play friendlies against Botswana, Tanzania and Italy before the FIFA Confederations Cup, in which the Oceania confederation champions have been grouped with Spain, Iraq, and South Africa.

The Cup line-up includes the leading teams from each of the six football confederations, along with hosts South Africa and FIFA World Cup™ champions Italy.

New Zealand squad
Goalkeepers:
James Bannatyne (Petone/Team Wellington), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory, Australia), Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix)

Defenders: Andrew Boyens (New York Red Bulls, USA), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), David Mulligan (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (captain - Blackburn Rovers, England), Steven Old (Kilmarnock, Scotland), Aaron Scott (Melville United/Waitakere United), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix)

Midfielders: Andy Barron (Petone/Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Christie (Wellington Phoenix), Simon Elliott (San Jose Earthquakes, USA), Chris James (Tampere United, Finland), Duncan Oughton (Columbus Crew, USA)

Forwards: Kris Bright (Panserraikos, Greece), Jeremy Brockie (North Queensland Fury, Australia), Chris Killen (Celtic, Scotland), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United, Australia), Jarrod Smith (Seattle Sounders, USA), Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion, England)