Football: All Whites captain Winston Reid determined to face England despite schedule clash

A scheduling clash could force All Whites captain Winston Reid to miss New Zealand's historic football friendly against England in November.

The All Whites are scheduled to face the 'Three Lions'  at Wembley on November 13 (NZ time), in what will be the first time the Kiwi men have played England. Their previous two meetings were in New Zealand in 1991. 

On Saturday, NZ Football confirmed that next month's match against world No. 1 Belgium would be called off because it couldn't assemble a full squad in time for the game, with New Zealand, Australia and the US - where Reid is currently based with Sporting Kansas City - all unavailable due to the complex travel rules around the world. 

While coach Danny Hay is hopeful more players will be free to face England, Reid faces a dilemma, in that Kansas City's final Major League Soccer (MLS) regular-season game against Real Salt Lake is locked in for November 9. 

Kansas City is currently third place in the Western Conference and to advance to the playoffs they need to finish inside the top eight. 

But Reid says being captain of New Zealand, he wants to play in every single game for the All Whites. 

"With regards to the national team, I always want to play every single game," says Reid. 

"Being captain, I always want to be part of it so we'll try to figure out a way around it, but I know this year with the situation with the virus and everything, no one quite knows what is going to happen.

"As players what we can do is stay ready and you make yourself available but we just don't quite know 100 percent what's going on.

"Everything gets changed from day to day, and that's on a Government level.

"Hopefully the game will go ahead and hopefully we can sort of finish playing this end of the season also in the MLS as well but I always want to play international football."

The All Whites haven't played since last November, when they lost to Lithuania 1-0 in Vilnius. They were scheduled to play Oman and Bahrain in March 2020 but the matches were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Reid was part of November's All Whites squad but didn't play against Lithuania, although he got 45 minutes of game time against the Republic of Ireland a few days earlier. 

"When we got back together last year, the players had changed lots since the last time, there were some familiar faces but it was good to see lots of good young players coming through.

Winston Reid in action for Sporting Kansas City.
Winston Reid in action for Sporting Kansas City. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm not getting to the end of my career yet, but I'm not getting younger, so I want to help them and make sure we put out a good team and improve. 

"That's my main objective and help us get to another World Cup." 

Reid is currently on loan at Kansas City, after a horror injury run with West Ham United in the English Premier League which saw him out of action for two years at club level.

Reid's last competitive game for West Ham was against Swansea City, when he sustained a serious knee injury.

He underwent multiple surgeries to overcome the injury and encountered many setbacks along the way. 

But the 32-year-old is enjoying playing regular football again, featuring in five games for Kansas City so far this season. 

"It wasn't easy, but I got to a point where I knew I could get back to where I wanted to be. 

Winston Reid gets taken off against his injury against Swansea.
Winston Reid gets taken off against his injury against Swansea. Photo credit: Reuters

"After operations, you never know it's going to look so after rehab, there were some setbacks because I had to have more surgeries and those were the hardest things to get through.

"Once you get through that hurdle, you have to grind it out, work hard and look at the positives, and think there could be far worse situations you could be in.

"I just had to work hard to get back, it took longer, but we're getting there so hopeful for the remainder of my career I can stay fit and healthy." 

Reid is contracted with West Ham until 2023, but he isn't trying to think too far ahead, due to the continual uncertainty around the coronavirus. 

"I spoke to [West Ham] manager [David Moyes] before I decided to come to the US and he just wanted me to play," he says.

"Being out for 18 months is a long time in the football world and I had to find a place where I could be happy and get the joy of playing so I was fortunate enough to land here and I've been enjoying my time.

"I'm not sure what will happen in the coming months, nobody knows so it's tough to look into the future, I'm happy to be here with the group and the people at the club and the city have  been great, so the only difficult thing is not having my family here with me full time."