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Football: New Zealand boost for World Cup play-off

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New Zealand received a boost Tuesday with attacking trio Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood and Marco Rojas declared fit for their World Cup play-off against Mexico this month.

All three players missed the October friendly with Trinidad and Tobago due to injury, but have recovered to be named in a 23-man squad ahead of the first leg in Mexico City on November 13 as the All Whites vie for a place in Brazil.

"It's great to be able to include those players who have long been an integral part of what we've done," coach Ricki Herbert said.

"Their return points to the fact that we're developing a very competitive squad."

After earning recall for the 0-0 draw with Trinidad, Rory Fallon is again included while Bill Tuiloma and Craig Henderson, who earned their first caps last month, also make the grade.

The squad will assemble in Los Angeles on November 9 before travelling to Mexico City for the first leg encounter at the 105,000-capacity Estadio Azteca.

The return leg is in Wellington on November 20.

Oceania, the weakest of the six FIFA confederations, does not have an automatic berth at the 2014 World Cup.

Instead, the top qualifier faces a two-leg play-off against the fourth-placed Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONACAF) side, in this case Mexico.

Goalkeepers: Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Jacob Spoonley (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tamati Williams (Auckland City/NZL)

Defenders: Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tony Lochhead (unattached), Winston Reid (West Ham/ENG), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners/AUS), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town/ENG), Bill Tuiloma (Olympique Marsellie/FRA), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City/NZL),

Midfielders: Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury Utd/NZL), Jeremy Christie (unattached), Craig Henderson (Mjallby/SWE), Chris James (Kuopion Palloseura/FIN), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners/AUS)

Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix/NZL), Rory Fallon (St Johnstone/SCO), Marco Rojas (Vfb Stuttgart/GER), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory/AUS), Chris Wood (Leicester City/ENG)

mp/jw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131104/football-new-zealand-boost-world-cup-play