Captain Winston Reid's hit-and-miss relationship with the All Whites is continuing after injury ruled him out of twin internationals against Fiji.
West Ham United's Winston Reid celebrates scoring his teams first goal against Sunderland during the English Premier League soccer match at the London Stadium, London.
Source: Associated Press
The West Ham central defender suffered a groin injury early in the English Premier League club's loss to Leicester City on Saturday, sidelining him from both World Cup qualifying games.
The 28-year-old won't be replaced in the New Zealand squad for games in Lautoka on Saturday and in Wellington the following Tuesday.
The captaincy goes to Leeds United striker Chris Wood, as it was for the wins over New Caledonia in November.
Reid is yet to play a World Cup qualifying game despite making his New Zealand debut in 2010.
Suspension, injury and unavailability have dogged his international career. He has played in just 21 of a possible 48 games.
All Whites coach Anthony Hudson says Reid's absence will be felt.
"It's disappointing he is not coming because he is such an important player, he is a great character and I know how much he was looking forward to being here," Hudson said.
"But with regards to the team we have been in this position many times. We have got a good squad, we are adaptable and we have enough in this squad to deal with this tour so we are prepared for this."
Meanwhile, Ipswich Town FC attacking midfielder Monty Patterson is also out of the Fiji matches after failing to overcome a hamstring injury.
The 20-year-old will be replaced by Alex Rufer, the Wellington Phoenix attacking midfielder who has played just three A-League games this season. The last of them was in November.
Hudson has resisted the chance to select proven forward Kosta Barbarouses, with the Phoenix forward a surprise omission from the squad announced last week.
"I'm pleased to bring Alex in and he's a natural replacement in midfield," Hudson said.
"I'm well aware of his quality, and when I saw him train down at the Phoenix a while back he was one of the best players on the pitch. Everyone I speak to down there tells me how well he's been doing too."