WELLINGTON - Teenage striker Chris Wood has been rushed in to the New Zealand soccer squad for next month's Confederations Cup in South Africa just weeks after making his debut in the English Premier League.
The 17-year-old received his first international call-up yesterday after impressing New Zealand selectors as a substitute for West Bromwich Albion against Portsmouth last month.
He had already represented New Zealand at under-17 level.
"Chris has gone to a good club and been good enough to pave his way through to coming off the bench in a Premier League game," national coach Ricki Herbert said in a statement yesterday.
"That speaks volumes and he thoroughly justifies his place in the squad."
Wood is the only uncapped player in the 23-man squad captained by Ryan Nelsen.
The squad will travel to Africa to play friendlies in early June against Tanzania, Botswana and Italy before the eight-nation Confederations Cup starts in the middle of the month. New Zealand are drawn in the same group as South Africa, Spain and Iraq.
New Zealand squad: James Bannatyne, Glen Moss, Mark Paston, Andrew Boyens, Tony Lochhead, David Mulligan, Ryan Nelsen (cpt), Steven Old, Aaron Scott, Ben Sigmund, Andy Barron, Leo Bertos, Tim Brown, Jeremy Christie, Simon Elliott, Chris James, Duncan Oughton, Kris Bright, Jeremy Brockie, Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz, Jarrod Smith, Wood. - Reuters