New Zealand have received a boost ahead of this month’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ play-off against Mexico with the return of key attacking players from injury.
Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood and Marco Rojas have all been named in Ricki Herbert’s 23-man squad despite missing last month’s international against Trinidad and Tobago.
"It's great to be able to include those players who have long been an integral part of what we've done," said Herbert.
"Their return points to the fact that we're developing a very competitive squad."
The prolific Smeltz scored against Italy at South Africa 2010, where Wood was a fellow member of the forward line. The highly-rated Rojas, having been named A-League player of the year, made the move to Stuttgart during the off-season.
On the debit side Chris Killen, another South Africa 2010 veteran, along with youngster Tim Payne, were not considered due to injury.
If we can be tight and very resolute we can put ourselves in a position to showcase our talents at home in the second leg.
Herbert said the experience of four years ago when New Zealand defeated Bahrain over two legs to break their 28-year World Cup drought, is critical.
“The home fixture is ultra-important and after watching them (Mexico) against Finland move numbers forward quickly I’m sure they’ll try to set the tie alight and score goals in that first leg,” said Herbert.
“That presents a strong challenge for us but also a good one. If we can be tight and very resolute we can put ourselves in a position to showcase our talents at home in the second leg.”
The All Whites will open the intercontinental play-off in Mexico City on 13 November, with the return leg in Wellington seven days later.
New Zealand squad to face Mexico:
Goalkeepers: Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Jacob Spoonley (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tamati Williams (Auckland City/NZL)
Defenders: Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tony Lochhead (unattached), Winston Reid (West Ham United/ENG), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners/AUS), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town/ENG), Bill Tuiloma (Olympique Marsellie/FRA), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City/NZL),
Midfielders: Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury Utd/NZL), Jeremy Christie (unattached), Craig Henderson (Mjallby/SWE), Chris James (Kuopion Palloseura/FIN), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners/AUS)
Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Rory Fallon (St Johnstone/SCO), Marco Rojas (Vfb Stuttgart/GER), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory/AUS), Chris Wood (Leicester City/ENG)