Winston Reid's long-awaited football return given extra meaning with All Whites captaincy

Winston Reid will make his return to competitive football after a lengthy stint on the sideline with injuries, with the defender confirmed to captain the All Whites in the team's friendly against Ireland.

All Whites captain Winston Reid. Source: Photosport

Reid hasn't played a competitive match in 18 months due to the ongoing issues he's faced with his knee injury but he will make his return tomorrow in Dublin.

West Ham United's Winston Reid receives medical attention during the game against Swansea. Source: Associated Press

The 31-year-old won't be going into the match without any game time under his belt though, having appeared in three pre-season friendlies with West Ham and adding a further 64 minutes with the club's under-23 team earlier this month.

With no new issues, Reid joined up with the squad for tomorrow's game and admits he's enjoyed being back in the environment.

"We've trained well this week and we're looking forward to the game tomorrow," Reid said.

"I've been out for a while so it's about not taking unnecessary risks, but I'm healthy, otherwise I wouldn't be here."

All Whites coach Danny Hay said despite the lack of recent matches, he had no issues handing the captain's armband to Reid.

"He holds a huge amount of respect and mana amongst the group, I just look at the way the young players respond to his presence in the environment, it's massive, it's a big big plus."

However, the All Whites may end up losing valuable Premier League experience elsewhere with Burnley striker Chris Wood in doubt for the match after missing training with a slight leg niggle.

"We just need to see how he pulls up, we won't take any unnecessary risks, we understand that this is a friendly, but Chris is desperate to play," Hay said.

Tomorrow's match is also Hay's first time in charge of the All Whites after taking over from Fritz Schmid.