All Whites coach Danny Hay is confident skipper Winston Reid’s loan move from West Ham to Sporting Kansas City is positive news for the national team.
Reid has been plagued by injury over the past 18 months in the Premier League and had continued to sit on the sidelines at the London club despite playing for the All Whites in November’s friendly in Ireland.
Hay says the chance for Reid to get game time is a huge boost for his side and expects the US league to give him exposure to good quality football.
“I think this is the perfect move for Winston,” Hay told football show TVNZ FC today. “Just the fact that he has been out for so long, this is all about him getting time on the pitch. We just need minutes under his belt.”
The All Whites play friendlies against Oman and Bahrain in March and then start World Cup qualifying in September, with Reid central to Hay’s plans.
He is one of nine Kiwi players now with clubs in Major League Soccer in the US, including three at Minnesota.
“It’s a big league, it’s a legitimate league. It is a great avenue for the Kiwi player.”
Hay, who will spend five weeks in America from May, building relationships with coaches at clubs which have Kiwi players, is set to announce his next All Whites squad next month ahead of the games in the Gulf.
The pool of players will be cut back to 21, down from 24 for the games in Europe last November.
And Hay says he’s happy with the talent pool at his disposal, with a number of strong young players coming through as well as experienced squad members like Chris Wood and Ryan Thomas in good form.
“It is a good place to be actually,” Hay says, “because I am having to make some difficult decisions about who is going to be there and who isn’t.”
He spoke to Wood today and said the Burnley striker says he is only expecting to be out for a short time with the hamstring injury he picked up last weekend.
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