Anthony Hudson surprised Alex Rufer hasn't been playing at Wellington Phoenix

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Reid out of All Whites internationals

Football can be a highly subjective game.

You only need to look as far as Alex Rufer's late inclusion in the All Whites squad this week for proof of that.

With captain Winston Reid and winger Monty Patterson succumbing to injuries over the weekend, the 20-year-old Wellington Phoenix midfielder was given the nod by All Whites coach Anthony Hudson to replace the latter of that pair.

Alex Rufer in a rare appearance for the Wellington Phoenix's reserve team this season.
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Alex Rufer in a rare appearance for the Wellington Phoenix's reserve team this season.

It was a curious move given Kosta Barbarouses would have seemed the more likely swap, although Hudson said he was looking for an attacking midfielder as a replacement. 

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The other aspect was the fact Rufer has fallen completely out of favour with the Phoenix coaches. His last competitive match for the club was for the second team on January 14.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson is happy to have Alex Rufer back in his squad, despite him being on the outer at the ...
REUTERS

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson is happy to have Alex Rufer back in his squad, despite him being on the outer at the Wellington Phoenix.

He wasn't even in the squad when the club played a midweek friendly against Beijing BG, after which co-coach Chris Greenacre said Rufer had some things he needed to work on.

"Alex is training with us, but is out of contention at the minute," Greenacre said. 

"We've told him what he needs to work on and what he needs to do to get into the team and it's up to Alex to take that opportunity...It's up to Alex to get into the team and push his way in."

Alex Rufer representing New Zealand at the under-20 World Cup in 2015.
GETTY IMAGES

Alex Rufer representing New Zealand at the under-20 World Cup in 2015.

Contrast that with Hudson's comments on Monday, the first day of the All Whites' camp in Wellington as they prepare to play two World Cup Qualifying games against Fiji.

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He felt players like Rufer needed to be looked after and had this to say when asked if he was surprised Rufer had not been getting a run in either the first or second teams at the Phoenix.

"Yeah, 100 per cent.

"It's not for me to comment about what they [Phoenix] do, Alex Rufer is one of the best young players in New Zealand. We don't have a lot of players in this country, this is a player we need to take care of, as we do of Clayton Lewis and other players.

"There are lots of young players that are signing for teams, Sam Brotherton, Clayton Lewis is going to get a move, Kip Colvey, Deklan Wynne, that the Phoenix have not signed.

"Other clubs value them, everyone has got a different opinion on the game and players, but as the national team manager, just because they're not playing for the Phoenix, doesn't mean we give them the cold shoulder, that's wrong."

Hudson had to go against his own ethos of picking players who were getting regular first-team experience to call Rufer up.

"I need all my players to be playing games, that's something that we constantly want and impress on the players and demand on the players, you've got to be playing first-team football, but it can't always be perfect for us."

One player who is never short on first-team play is Reid, and perhaps that's what has cost him the chance to be with the All Whites this week.

Hudson revealed his captain was carrying a slight ankle injury into his match for West Ham on the weekend, which may have contributed to him going down with a serious groin injury.

"[He] might have been overcompensating which might have caused that injury. He'll have the scan to see the extent of the injury, but it looks quite severe.

"He was gutted. he was looking forward to coming out here. This game now was building into the Confederations Cup, which is really exciting to be part of, so it's disappointing and with it being our strongest squad and everyone turning up  it's a double disappointment really."

Hudson has been linked with the vacant managerial job at Norwich City in the English second-division, but said he would not be commenting on speculation.

"If you were to ask anyone here, players, staff, my focus is purely on winning and getting to the World Cup."

Hudson had just seven players from his squad available on Monday, with the full squad expected to be assembled by Wednesday ahead of Saturday's match in Fiji.

 - Stuff

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