Key OlyWhites defender Michael Boxall has reportedly been ruled out of the Tokyo Games, leaving the squad without one of its coveted trio of over-age players.
Last week, the 32-year-old suffered a thigh injury playing for Minnesota United in the US Major League Soccer competition, a week after being selected as one of New Zealand's quota of players aged 24 years or older.
While Boxall hoped to recover in time to compete in Japan, he now seems out of contention.
Adding insult to injury, NZ Football can’t name a replacement, with their 18-strong squad already locked in for the tournament.
"Captain centre back Michael Boxall will not head to the Olympics in Tokyo, due to the thigh injury he picked up July 3," tweets St Paul Pioneer Press beat writer Andy Greder.
"If not for injury, he would've joined New Zealand national team as one of the over-23 roster exemptions."
The injury was sustained in Boxall's final match, before linking with the Olympics squad in Japan, after being released by his US club to compete.
The Aucklander would have combined with fellow over-age player Winton Reid in the NZ defensive line, where newcomers George Stanger and Nando Pijnaker will now likely be called upon.
On Tuesday, the OlyWhites played the first of two warm-up games against Australia in Ichihara, with second-half goals to Chris Wood and Eli Just sealing a 2-0 win.
The second match is scheduled for Thursday night.
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