After working his way back from serious injury, New Zealand All White Deklan Wynne is delighted to now be fully fit and is targeting a big year as he looks to establish himself for both club and country.
The 22-year-old is one of a number of bright prospects in Anthony Hudson’s squad for their two-legged clash against Fiji in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – OFC Stage 3 qualifiers kicking off this weekend.
Hudson has been able to name arguably the strongest group assembled during his time at the helm and the left fullback spot Wynne has his hand up for is one of many where the competition for places will be hot.
Also in the mix for a starting berth are Wellington Phoenix player Tom Doyle and Kip Colvey, who is based in America at Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit the San Jose Earthquakes. Wynne insists the trio are all good friends away from the pitch but there is also a healthy rivalry between them once they step over the white line.
“It’s always good to have competition and it’s going to make you train harder because you obviously want to be the one playing,” he said.
“All of us have been training hard but hopefully I can get the starting spot. We’re all mates but when we step out onto the pitch it’s really competitive and it’s like that for every position at the moment.”
It’s a similar story at club level for Wynne, where he is looking to follow in the footsteps of Colvey by breaking into the MLS, the highest-profile competition in the United States. Wynne is already on the books of a club at that level, the Vancouver Whitecaps, but lines up for the second-string Whitecaps 2 in the United Soccer League.
His aim is to step up to the first team and he has a plan in place to get there.
“It’s a goal for all of us in that team, we’re always pushing and we know the level is not too much of a jump. So we know we’re capable of doing it, it’s just a case of getting noticed and making the first team coaches feel like you’re good enough,” he said.
“I think the key is having an injury-free season and playing as many games as I can. I had quite a bad injury last season and was out for seven or eight months so this is really the season I’m looking to push on, stay healthy and put a lot of good performances together.”
He is hoping that string of strong showings begins by playing a significant part in New Zealand’s pair of matches against Fiji in the coming days, which are the All Whites’ next steps on a road they hope will lead to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Wynne knows he and his fellow defenders will have their hands full in dealing with the likes of Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna but is confident of getting the job done.
“It’s always hard going over there with the heat and what-not but there’s no excuses. If we stick to our game plan and everyone is 100 per cent focused I think we can come away with three points,” he said.
New Zealand will play Fiji in the first match of their two-legged clash for Group A of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – OFC Stage 3 at 1pm (local time) at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji, on 25 March before both teams travel to Wellington, New Zealand, for their second match on 28 March.
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football