Reid may start off bench for All Whites

Last updated 17:02 15/10/2012
Winston Reid
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The All Whites' three South Island players may start tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier in Christchurch.

Ryan Nelsen will captain the All Whites against Tahiti in his first international in his hometown.

But, fellow English premier league player Winston Reid told said he still had some pain in his lower back and right hamstring.

He will have a light jog tonight and make a decision on his fitness but coach Ricki Herbert might choose to use the West Ham United defender off the bench.

That would mean Wellington Phoenix favourite Ben Sigmund would start in central defence alongside Nelsen in their first game together in Christchurch since they played together for Christchurch United in 1998.

Sigmund scored the All Whites' second goal in a 2-0 win over Tahiti in Papeete on Saturday night and Herbert described his performance as ''awesome''.

Jeremy Brockie, the former Nelson Suburbs and Canterbury United forward now playing for the Phoenix, may also earn a start up front with leading scorer Shane Smeltz in doubt with a tight hamstring. 

Brockie, 25, made his All Whites' debut the last time the national team played in Christchurch in 2006 in a friendly against Malaysia.

Herbert could also use this game to give Los Angeles Galaxy's Dan Keat a start in central midfield for regular playmaker Michael McGlinchey.

Keat is yet to start a game in the World Cup qualifiers and missed the Oceania Nations Cup series in June due to injury.

With Nelsen returning to the rearguard, Herbert is likely to revert to a three-man defence with Tony Lochhead in the left wingback role. 

But Leo Bertos could be rested on the right flank to make way for Greece-based midfielder Kosta Barbarouses.

With Smeltz unlikely,  Chinese-based striker Chris Killen could lead the line with Brockie alongside him. Melbourne Victory's Marco Rojas could get to play in a free role just behind the front two with Millwall's Chris Wood dropping to the bench.

Herbert's other injury concern is in goal where World Cup finals No 1 Mark Paston is still troubled by a foot infection.

Paston said he would see if he could get a boot on his foot tonight. But Herbert may opt to continue with Glen Moss, Paston's understudy at club and national level.

Herbert said after the squad's visit to child cancer patients at Christchurch Hospital that he hoped to be able to finalise his team tonight.

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He cancelled this morning's planned training session to ''give the players a lie-in and some extra recovery time'' after a long trip back from Tahiti yesterday.

''There are just one or two little niggles and I just want the side to absolutely injury-free and 100 per cent.''

Paston said he was keen to play and was disappointed to miss the game in Tahiti. But he said at the child cancer ward, ''when you come to a place like this and see what these kids have to go through, it puts [a football injury] into perspective.''


- Stuff

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