Teenage goalkeeper Henry Gray looks set to make a surprise appearance in the All Whites squad to face DR Congo in Saturday’s international friendly.
Gray (18) has been training with the New Zealand squad at their camp in Spain, and he appears to have been handed a shirt number ahead of the weekend’s match.
The New Zealand U-20 ‘keeper is reported to have been promoted to the All Whites bench because ‘keeper Max Crocombe is expected to play for his Burton Albion club in an English League Two game at Lincoln City.
Crocombe, Michael Woud (Ventforet Kofu, Japan) and Nik Tzanez (AFC Wimbledon, England) were named as the three goalkeepers in the New Zealand squad for the October friendlies against DR Congo and Australia.
Though no formal announcement was made, Ipswich Town’s Gray was invited to train with the squad at their Spain training camp.
Main photo: Henry Gray photographed at the All Whites training camp. Photo credit: NZ Football social media post.
NZ Football have since shared social media clips showing shirt numbers allocated to the squad and these include Gray 23, suggesting he’ll be the All Whites’ third choice ‘keeper against DR Congo.
Gray signed a two-year professional deal with English Championship club Ipswich this year, following a successful trial.
He began his football journey with Upper Hutt City as a 10-year-old, before moving to Western Suburbs for youth football.
As a senior player, Gray played for Central League club Waterside Karori since leaving Lower Hutt City and the Wellington Phoenix reserves in 2022.
Gray won the Golden Gloves award when playing for New Zealand at September’s OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti, and was part of the New Zealand side that went to the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup in Argentina.
All Whites head coach Darren Bazeley is familiar with Gray, having coached him in the U-19s and U-20s.
Updated New Zealand squad
Other changes made to the squad since it was first named:
Wing-back James McGarry suffered a hamstring injury when playing for his Aberdeen club, and has been replaced by Dalton Wilkins (Kolding, Denmark).
Newcomer Matt Dibley-Dias returned to his Fulham club for treatment after he suffered an injury in training camp.
Max Crocombe (2 caps) Burton Albion FC, England
Michael Woud (4 caps) Ventforet Kofu, Japan
Nik Tzanev (1 cap) AFC Wimbledon, England
Henry Gray* (0 caps), Ipswich Town, England
Bill Tuiloma (37 caps) Charlotte FC, United States
Dalton Wilkins (2 caps) Kolding, Denmark
Liberato Cacace (15 caps) Empoli FC, Italy
Michael Boxall (43 caps) Minnesota United, United States
Nando Pijnaker (12 caps) Sligo Rovers, Ireland
Niko Kirwan (8 caps) Calcio Padova, Italy
Tommy Smith (50 caps) MK Dons, England
Tyler Bindon* (0 caps) Reading FC, England
Callum McCowatt (12 caps) Silkeborg IF, Denmark
Marko Stamenic (14 caps) FK Crvena zvezda / Red Star Belgrade, Serbia
Matthew Garbett (15 caps) NAC Breda, Netherlands
Sarpreet Singh (9 caps) FC Hansa Rostock, Germany
Alex Greive (10 caps) St Mirren FC, Scotland
Ben Waine (8 caps) Plymouth Argyle, England
Chris Wood (70 caps) Nottingham Forest, England
Eli Just (16 caps) AC Horsens, Denmark
Joe Champness (6 caps) Adanaspor, Turkey
Max Mata (4 caps) Shrewsbury Town, England
*Debut senior international call-up
Game to be played on Saturday October 14, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v DR Congo
Estadio Nueva Condomina, Murcia, Spain, 5am (NZT)
Game to be played on Wednesday October 18, 2023 (NZT)
New Zealand v Australia
Gtech Community Stadium, London, 7.45am (NZT)