Michael McGlinchey is London-bound after West Ham United defender Winston Reid pulled out of New Zealand's Olympic Games team.
New Zealand coach Neil Emblen had hoped Reid would join captain Ryan Nelsen and striker Shane Smeltz as his three over-age players but West Ham played hard ball. Clubs are not obliged to release over-age players for the Olympics and West Ham boss Sam Allardyce wants Reid to prepare for the club's return to the Premier League.
"The email came back from West Ham and what they're saying is right. It's at the discretion of the clubs with the over-age players," Emblen said.
"I'm sure Winston wanted to come and play but we can see their situation as well.
"There's some important games for the All Whites at the end of the year as well and you don't want to ruin relationships, so we'll just replace him and move on. We understand that."
Central Coast Mariners midfielder McGlinchey was on standby and Emblen broke the news to him yesterday.
"He was delighted and we've contacted Central Coast Mariners and he'll be available for that whole programme which is fantastic," Emblen said. "I feel this is Michael's chance to really kick on.
"He's coming off the back of another very good A-League season and Asian Champions League campaign and it gives us that spine of the team with Nelsen, McGlinchey and Smeltz at centre back, centre midfield and centre forward.
"We have a senior player in every third of the pitch."
The full Olympic squad will be named at 3pm today and Emblen said Jake Gleeson remained his likely choice in goal.
Injuries to Mark Paston and Glen Moss meant Gleeson was thrown into the fray for the All Whites in their failed Oceania Nations Cup campaign earlier this month. The Wellington product, now with the Portland Timbers in Oregon, struggled at times but Emblen was confident Gleeson had the character to rebound and perform well in London.
"Jake was thrown in the deep end a little bit," Emblen said.
"He's not been playing at his club and he was injured before he came into camp. All of a sudden the two keepers in front of him got injured and he was chucked in. He's still got the frame to be a top keeper. He needs to be playing games and the experience of Honiara – I'm sure that will be positive for him. Jake knows he can play better than he played and we know he can play better and the same could be said for a lot of the players on the tour.
"Jake deserves the chance to fight for his spot to be our No1 keeper at the Olympics."
New Zealand will play a warmup game against fellow Olympic qualifiers Japan in Tokyo on July 11 en route to London.
The Oly-Whites kick off their Olympic campaign against Belarus in Coventry (July 26) and play Egypt at Old Trafford (July 29) and Brazil at St James' Park (August 1).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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