EPL's West Ham United set for Wellington visit

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2014
Winston Reid
Getty Images
EXCITED: All Whites defender Winston Reid is looking forward to the two matches his West Ham United EPL side have in NZ next month.

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New Zealand's only English Premier League player will be the star attraction at Westpac Stadium in July, with confirmation that Winston Reid's West Ham United will play the Wellington Phoenix.

An official announcement is scheduled for this weekend, but Fairfax Media can confirm the east London team, known as the Hammers, are heading our way.

It is understood that fellow Premier League side Newcastle United, and two-time A-League champions Brisbane Roar, are being courted to make up a four-team tournament, likely to be played in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin.

If all goes to plan, the Phoenix could play Brisbane in a curtain-raiser to the main West Ham v Newcastle clash in mid to late July, with Saturday, July 26, a strong contender.

West Ham's confirmed visit will be the first to New Zealand by a top-division English team since Everton played Auckland and Canterbury way back in 1987.

Central defender Reid, who was West Ham's player of the year last season, is the only Kiwi playing in the EPL, though All Whites striker Chris Wood could play next season with promoted side Leicester City.

Reid has captained the All Whites and was one of the stars of their 2010 World Cup campaign, scoring a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Slovakia to secure New Zealand's first point in a World Cup finals match.

He could be accompanied to Wellington by team-mate Andy Carroll, a former Newcastle player who was signed by Liverpool in 2011 for a fee of £35 million (NZ$68.5m), which was at the time the highest amount paid by one club to another for a British footballer.

Newcastle, who are 9th in the EPL, have their own star defender in Fabricio Coloccini, who has more than 30 caps for Argentina.

The side is also crammed with French players, some of whom could be missing for the New Zealand trip if they have played at the World Cup in Brazil, which does not end until July 13.

Similarly, the Phoenix could be missing their Costa Rican stars Carlos Hernandez and Kenny Cunningham, if they are picked to play in the World Cup.

The Brisbane Roar would also lose players to Australia's World Cup squad, but their star German playmaker, Thomas Broich, who has never played for his country's senior team, would probably be available.

The last high-profile club team to play a friendly match in Wellington was David Beckham's LA Galaxy in December 2007. That match attracted 31,853 fans, which at the time was the biggest crowd to attend a football match in New Zealand.

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Ticket prices for West Ham are not known, but sources suggest the best seats could be priced between $100 and $120.

- Fairfax Media

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