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Football Ferns coach Tony Readings has continued his quest for quality and depth in naming a 23-strong squad to meet the United States next month.
Readings’ latest squad contains plenty of experience, and some exciting young players.
Ranked 20th in the world, the Kiwis will test themselves against the top-ranked US team in two internationals in Denver and Cincinnati.
Readings has named two new caps in forward Katie Rood, who last week signed her first professional deal with Juventus, and defender Elizabeth Anton.
Midfielder Olivia Chance has been called back into the squad after re-signing with Everton.
The three new caps from the Cyprus Cup in March — goalkeeper Anna Leat, midfielder Malia Steinmetz and forward Martine Puketapu — also return.
‘‘The younger players coming through, it’s important we give them opportunities and a chance to improve on the world stage,’’ Readings said.
His team will get a good benchmark of where it stands in world football on next month’s tour, as it continues to build towards the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
‘‘For the next World Cup and Olympics, we want to be choosing from a squad that has more quality players and depth,’’ Readings said.
‘‘We have some senior players and some younger ones, and there is a mixture of professional and amateur players.
‘‘The goal now is to give these players the best experience we can against one of the best teams in the world, so when we get to 2019 and 2020 we have an experienced squad to choose from.’’
Evergreen striker Amber Hearn, who has scored 53 goals in 120 internationals, has opted to sit out this international window, while Katie Duncan has retired from international football.
Duncan will be remembered as one of New Zealand’s greats, Readings said.
Duncan played 119 internationals for New Zealand over 10 years. The 29-year-old played professionally for Bad Neuenahr, Melbourne Victory, Notts County and FC Zurich, and represented New Zealand in three Olympic Games and three World Cups.
‘‘She has played a massive part in the past 10 years,’’ Readings said.
‘‘No matter what the level of opposition or whether it be training or playing international matches, she always gave it 100%.
Duncan made her debut in the 3-0 loss to China in 2006, with her final game the 3-0 loss to France at the Rio Olympics.
She said her career had been long and rewarding.
‘‘I’m hugely grateful to the team-mates and coaching staff I’ve had over the years for making it such an amazing journey.’’
Next month’s match will be the first time the Football Ferns have played the US since they were beaten by the defending Olympic champion 2-0 last year in their opening game of the Rio Olympics.
Football Ferns Team to play the US:
Victoria Esson, Anna Leat, Erin Nayler, Elizabeth Anton, CJ Bott, Anna Green, Meikayla Moore, Ria Percival, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott, Annalie Longo, Betsy Hassett, Katie Bowen, Olivia Chance, Daisy Cleverley, Malia Steinmetz, Kirsty Yallop, Jane Barnett, Aimee Phillips, Martine Puketapu, Katie Rood, Rosie White, Hannah Wilkinson.