All Whites release Chris Wood, Ryan Thomas for Solomon Islands return leg




Skipper Chris Wood and midfielder Ryan Thomas have been released by All Whites boss Anthony Hudson for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier second leg against the Solomon Islands in Honiara.

With the tie all but wrapped up following Friday's 6-1 first-leg thrashing in Albany, Hudson feels there's enough depth in his squad to cover the star pair's absence.

Wood scored a superb hat-trick on Friday to reach 23 international goals and climb to third on the all-time scorer's list for New Zealand.

Thomas, 22, ran amok against the Bonitos, grabbing a second-half goal and driving intelligently through the centre of midfield.

Hudson said he was confident the All Whites had the players to finish the job in Honiara, where only a catastrophic defeat can prevent them from taking on South America's fifth-placed side in November for a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

"We have the players within this group to win the game and finish the job," Hudson said.

"I wanted to either rest them on the bench or send them back early and I've decided to do the latter."

Hudson said the All Whites were taking nothing for granted, and it was a matter of pride that they prepare properly and win in Honiara.

The squad will fly to the Solomon Islands early tomorrow morning for the second leg on Tuesday afternoon.

"We know it is not going to be easy - the objective for this group of players is simple: perform well, win the game and confirm our place in the intercontinental playoff.

"No one in our squad is thinking about November yet and we can't afford to with what is at stake in this match."

Thomas said yesterday that he was keen to play in Honiara.

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"I come back for two games, I don't come back for one," he said.

"I've talked to the gaffer about it and we're quite adamant we want to work towards all the games," said Thomas, who plies his trade for PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie.

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