All Whites announce squad for Japan friendly, Neil Emblen named interim coach
Uncapped pair Tyler Boyd and Ryan Thomas have been included in a youthful All Whites squad for a football friendly against World Cup-bound Japan in Tokyo in March.
Boyd has impressed up front for the Wellington Phoenix while Thomas's performances in midfield for Dutch top flight club PEC Zwolle have earned him a contract extension through to 2018.
They are among three 19-year-olds in the 18-man squad, the other being midfielder Cameron Howieson, who is with English Championship club Burnley.
It features nine players aged under 25 and six from the Junior All Whites side from the last year's under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
The match against Japan is the first for the All Whites since they lost their World Cup intercontinental play-off to Mexico in November, after which coach Ricki Herbert stepped down.
Herbert's assistant, Neil Emblen, will be in charge as NZ Football continues its search for a permanent appointment.
Phoenix keeper Glen Moss will skipper the All Whites for first time while regular skipper Winston Reid continues his return from an ankle injury with West Ham United.
Reid missed the two-leg tie with Mexico and his replacement as captain, fellow defender Tommy Smith, will remain in England with Ipswich Town after consultation with NZF.
The squad contains six Phoenix players, including in-form fullback Michael Boxall, who last played for the All Whites two years ago.
Emblen says Japan will provide a big test.
He expects the Samurai Blue to be at full strength as their players press their claims for World Cup selection.
His own focus is on guiding the All Whites to a decent showing.
"I'm thankful I've been given the opportunity," he said.
"I'll be doing my best to help the side be as ready as they can be to put in a good performance."
The fixture on March 5 was rescheduled after the massive earthquake that struck Japan in March 2011.
All Whites squad: Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix), Jacob Spoonley (Team Wellington), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Bill Tuiloma (Olympique Marseille), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners), Michael Boxall (Wellington Phoenix), Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Michael McGlinchey (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Chris James (unattached), Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle), Tim Payne (Blackburn Rovers), Cameron Howieson (Burnley), Tyler Boyd (Wellington Phoenix), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Marco Rojas (Stuttgart), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix), Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory), Chris Wood (Leicester City).