Midfielder Joe Bell will retain the on-field leadership of the All Whites for the June internationals, in the absence of regular captain Chris Wood.
Wood (31) is receiving treatment at his Nottingham Forest club, for a quadriceps injury, forcing him to miss the All Whites’ games against Sweden and Qatar.
Bell (24) has been confirmed as the captain, following his elevation to the role for the first time against China in March.
Main photo: Joe Bell … keeps the captain’s armband for the June internationals.
Interim head coach Darren Bazeley says Wood will stay in England to work with his club’s medical staff who are trying to get him ready for the start of the next English Premier League season in August.
“It was deemed best to get him home as soon as possible to get him looked at by Nottingham Forest, because he’s obviously a key player for them and worth a lot of money to them,” Bazeley told a media briefing after the announcement of the New Zealand squad.
“Right now, he’s working hard to make sure he’s ready to start the season for Nottingham Forest. They did great to stay up, and it’s a big challenge ahead for them next season.
“But we want Woodsy fully fit and firing and scoring goals in the Premier League, as that will be great for New Zealand.”
Bell has previously captained the New Zealand U-20 team and has long been regarded as a future leader of the full national side.
Game to be played on Saturday June 17, 2023
Sweden v All Whites
Friends Arena, Soina, Stockholm, 5am (NZT)
Game to be played on Tuesday June 20, 2023
Qatar v All Whites
Generali Arena, Vienna, 4am (NZT)