Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2016 OFC Nations Cup > Smeltz ruled out of Nations Cup

Smeltz ruled out of Nations Cup

The 34-year-old, who has scored 24 goals from his 51 internationals for New Zealand, was managing a strain to his plantar fascia (the flat band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot) and was being monitored by the Sydney FC and All Whites medical teams.
New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson decided it was not worth risking further injury to Smeltz and has replaced him with promising attacking midfielder Luka Prelevic.
“It is a disappointing because we’d love to have Smeltzy with us,” says Hudson.
“We have been monitoring him for quite a few weeks now and it has been causing him a lot of problems.
“He has been having injections and is not right, we need him fit and it ultimately wouldn’t be good for us and it wouldn’t be good for him if we forced him here.”
Hudson said Prelevic, a 20-year-old forward who plays his football for the Pascoe Vale SC in Melbourne, would not be out of place as he eyes his international debut.
Prelevic was a member of the All Whites U-23 squad who played in Papua New Guinea last year and featured in the team’s opening 2-0 win in the training game against Brisbane club side Western Pride FC.
“Luka did very well for us in the islands last year,” says Hudson.
“He is a big player, a strong player, he is an attacking midfielder and I have no problem with Luka coming into the squad.”
After a successful two week camp in Auckland and Brisbane, Hudson said the All Whites could not wait to get on the plane to Papua New Guinea tomorrow morning and begin the final preparations for their opener against Fiji on Saturday.
“[This camp] has been the best time we have had with the team,” he says.
“I have really enjoyed it because it has gone well.
“The players have given everything and really applied themselves to everything and there is a really good team spirit around the place now, and because of all that I have really enjoyed the camp.”
“Now we are at the stage where we are ready to get to Papua New Guinea and ready for Saturday.”
The team has endured a couple of disruptions in their build-up but Hudson referred to the mantra of “no excuses” and they would not be deterred from their goal to win the tournament.
“This is international football and football in general.
“Injuries and all these sorts of things happen and you just have to get on with it.
“We brought a couple of extra players to train with us in Brisbane just in case fitness levels were low or if we did get an injury we would have the guys here doing the work and prepared to be in line with the team.”
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football

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