The All Whites will tackle China on Thursday morning
without captain Ryan Nelsen, who has withdrawn with niggling
ankle and knee injuries.
Coach Ricki Herbert has called up 17-year-old midfielder
Cameron Howieson, who will travel from Burnley in the UK to
link up the rest of the All Whites squad in Shanghai today.
Nelsen and medical staff have been managing the injuries for
the past month and he has not trained with his QPR club
between matches in the English Premier League.
"Ryan is committed to our programme and is a key asset to our
campaign to qualify for the Fifa World Cup in Brazil," New
Zealand Football high performance director Fred de Jong said.
"It's not unique for a team to manage their athletes as best
as they can. Ryan is 35 years old and we want to do all we
can to make sure he is fit to play in our World Cup
qualifiers in March and again in November next year if
De Jong was aware the stance could leave NZF open to
criticism in the wake of Winston Reid's situation during last
month's World Cup qualifiers with Tahiti but was quick to
stress the difference in scenarios. Reid's West Ham club boss
Sam Allardyce was highly critical of Herbert and NZF for
insisting Reid joined up with the All Whites even though he
was injured - he didn't play either game against Tahiti.
"The window in October was for official matches whereas this
window is for friendly matches, which is a tighter
timeframe," de Jong said.
The Fifa rules around release of players for official matches
is five days prior to the window, whereas friendly matches is
"We were able to treat Winston on arrival in New Zealand for
at least four days before the match with Tahiti in
Christchurch. With the China game we're talking hours rather
than days," de Jong said.
The last of the England-based All Whites arrive in Shanghai
today, with the match scheduled for 12.30am (NZT) on