4 Mar 2009

All Whites have most of their big names for Thailand

2:32 pm on 4 March 2009

The All Whites will begin their biggest football season in 27 years with most of their big names players available after coach Ricki Herbert named a strong 18-man squad for the March 28 friendly against Thailand.

The match in Bangkok is the first in a busy season with the June's FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa and a home-and-away Asia-Oceania World Cup playoffs the highlights.

New Zealand Football expects to secure a second match on April 1 to replace a friendly against Indonesia cancelled by the Indonesian FA for security reasons.

Herbert says Thailand recently drew with Iran, so the game will give a good indication of where his side needs to be in the October and November playoffs.

Blackburn's Ryan Nelsen regains the captaincy and Tim Brown returns as vice-captain.

The Wellington Phoenix pair Ben Sigmund and Leo Bertos are the most notable absentees as both recover from off-season surgery to hip and leg injuries.

The rest of the squad is: Goalkeepers: Mark Paston, Glen Moss. Defenders: Kris Bouckenhooghe, Andrew Boyens, Tony Lochhead, David Mulligan, Aaron Scott. Midfielders: Jeremy Christie, Simon Elliott, Chris James, Duncan Oughton, Fowards: Kris Bright, Jeremy Brockie, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz, Jarrod Smith.