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Barbarouses dumped for Fiji clashes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/03/2017 Angelo Risso

All Whites boss Anthony Hudson has remained tight-lipped on his omission of Kosta Barbarouses from the side's 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Fiji.

The 27-year-old Barbarouses has been an ever-present on the right flank for New Zealand since 2011, including last year's OFC Nations Cup tilt.

But the Wellington Phoenix man has been left out for this month's tussles in Lautoka and Wellington, for reasons Hudson wouldn't divulge.

Re-joining the Nix at the start of this A-League season, Barbarouses started slowly but has returned to form in recent weeks in a free-roaming offensive role.

He combined well with Fijian skipper Roy Krishna in last week's clash with Perth Glory, scoring a goal and helping make another as the side drew 3-3.

"He's a good man and great character, on his day he's a top player," Hudson said.

"The reasons why are between me and Kosta, (but) he's still very much an important player for us and still very much in my thinking."

Barbarouses' absence will likely see Marco Rojas and Dutch-based young gun Ryan Thomas slot in on the Kiwi flanks, with debutant Jai Ingham also available.

Hudson said the attainment of Ingham and 17-year-old brother Dane, both Australian-born, was a major coup for New Zealand Football.

He had been keeping an eye on both in recent months as Jai secured a starting role at Melbourne Victory and Dane broke through at Brisbane Roar.

"Jai's got a good chance because he deserves it, playing at a good level at a good club," Hudson said.

"Dane, we've been watching him, initially talking about bringing him into the under-20s and I was endorsing it and had seen him and really liked him.

"He's a really good player, athletic, strong, technically strong."

Hudson admitted he was still searching for the side's best formation ahead of the two qualifiers, with two wins guaranteeing passage to the OFC playoff final.

But he'll finally have 2010 World Cup stalwart Tommy Smith to call on after the Ipswich Town defender recommitted to international football in October.

Injury had kept him out of the side's qualifiers against New Caledonia, but he is likely to join Winston Reid at the heart of the Kiwi backline against Fiji.

The 26-year-old had previously been frozen out of the squad due to a perceived lack of communication and commitment to the All Whites' cause.

"To be honest he would've been in the last couple of squads if it hadn't been for injury, (so) really pleased he's back in the squad," Hudson said.

"It's been on the cards for a while now."

Elsewhere, veteran Shane Smeltz has returned to the fold after an 18-month international absence, while in-form Leeds striker Chris Wood is a certainty up front.

Playmaker Michael McGlinchey is also likely to slot straight back into the starting XI.

The side will assemble for a training camp on March 19 ahead of their matches on March 25 in Lautoka and March 28 in Wellington.

ALL WHITES: Stefan Marinovic (SpVgg Unterhaching), Tamati Williams (RKC Waalwijk), Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix); Andrew Durante (Phoenix), Tom Doyle (Phoenix), Michael Boxall (SuperSport Utd), Kip Colvey (San Jose Earthquakes), Themi Tzimopoulos (PAS Giannina), Deklan Wynne (Vancouver Whitecaps), Winston Reid (West Ham United), Sam Brotherton (Sunderland), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town), Dane Ingham (Brisbane Roar); Bill Tuiloma (Marseille), Clayton Lewis (Auckland City), Michael McGlinchey (Phoenix), Moses Dyer (Eastern Suburbs), Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle); Chris Wood (Leeds Utd), Monty Patterson (Ipswich Town), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory), Shane Smeltz (Phoenix), Jai Ingham (Melbourne Victory).

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