1 Oct 2009

Herbert has luxury of picking injury-free squad

6:52 am on 1 October 2009

A rare injury-free New Zealand have been able to name their strongest squad possible for their two-legged play-off against Bahrain, with a place at next year's football world cup up for grabs.

Coach Ricki Herbert selected a squad of 19 players on Tuesday for the two matches, in Manama on October 10 and the second leg in Wellington on November 14.

The winner of the Asia-Oceania play-off will go to South Africa 2010 for what would be New Zealand's first World Cup since 1982 and Bahrain's first ever.

Blackburn Rovers skipper Ryan Nelsen will captain a New Zealand team expected to be largely unchanged from that which beat Jordan 3-1 in Amman last month.

Striker Rory Fallon and midfielder Michael McGlinchey retain their places in the squad after impressive debuts, while Celtic's Chris Killen and West Bromich Albion Chris Wood, late withdrawals from that squad through injury, come back.

Goalkeeper Glen Moss was the only player unavailable for selection due to a four-match World Cup suspension earned in New Zealand's final Oceania group qualifier against Fiji in November 2008.