West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has assured New Zealand football fans that he will be bringing his strongest squad for games against the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC in July.
The English Premier League club will play the Phoenix at Auckland's Eden Park on July 23 and Sydney at Westpac Stadium on July 26 as part of a double header in which the Phoenix will also meet Newcastle United.
''Myself, my staff and my players are all hugely looking forward to visiting New Zealand," Allardyce said.
''And as interest in the club and the Barclays Premier League continues to grow rapidly, the Football United Tour will also form a central and important part of our pre-season schedule.
"We will be bringing a strong first-team squad to New Zealand, will be training every day and playing two fixtures against quality opposition in Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.
"I understand that tickets are selling very well and for West Ham to play in front of a sell-out crowd would be something special. There will be less than a month to go until the start of the 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season when we visit, and I am sure fans are excited about the prospect of seeing the likes of Winston Reid, Andy Carroll and Mark Noble in action alongside the exciting new signings we hope to have made by then.
"I have heard so many fantastic things about New Zealand from Winston, former All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen, who I worked with at Blackburn Rovers, and my assistant Neil McDonald, who visited the country as a player.
"I am sure we will enjoy a productive trip, on and off the pitch. The Football United Tour is an event everybody associated with West Ham is relishing and I, for one, cannot wait."
What do you make of Tommy Smith's decision not to play for the All Whites?Related story: (See story)