All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has withdrawn from Thursday's (NZT) football international friendly with China with niggling ankle and knee injuries.
Nelsen and medical staff at his English Premier League club, Queens Park Rangers, have been managing the injuries for the past month and he has not trained for the club between matches.
Nelsen has been captaining the struggling West London club this season and played 90 minutes for Rangers in their 1-0 defeat to Stoke City on Sunday (NZ time).
The club is now firmly entrenched in last place in the league with just four points from 11 games this season and their next game is a crucial clash against Southampton on Sunday morning (NZ time).
Southampton are currently sitting just one point and one place above Rangers on the table.
Cameron Howieson, 17, has been called up to the All Whites and will travel from his Burnley home overnight to link up the rest of the squad in Shanghai today.
New Zealand Football high performance director Fred de Jong said it was important Nelsen's fitness was not compromised by playing for the All Whites.
"It's not unique for a team to manage their athletes as best as they can. Ryan is 35 years old and we want to do all we can to make sure he is fit to play in our Fifa World Cup qualifiers in March and again in November next year if necessary."
De Jong was aware the stance could leave NZF open to criticism in the wake of Winston Reid's situation during the World Cup qualifiers with Tahiti last month, but was quick to stress the difference in scenarios.
Reid's club West Ham United were highly critical of NZF's decision to call Reid up despite the fact he had been recently injured, and then he didn't play in either of the matches against Tahiti.
''The window in October was for official matches whereas this window is for friendly matches, which is a tighter timeframe,'' said de Jong.
Fifa rules around release of players for official matches is five days prior to the window, whereas friendly matches is 48 hours.
''We were able to treat Winston on arrival in New Zealand for at least four days before the match with Tahiti in Christchurch. With the China game we're talking hours rather than days,'' said de Jong.
The last of the England-based All Whites arrive in Shanghai today, with the match scheduled to kick off at 12.30am Thursday (NZ time).
- © Fairfax NZ News