10 Isuzu UTE A-League players called up by All Whites, incl. a teenage Phoenix debutant

New Zealand named their 24-player squad for this month’s W Cup, with Wellington Phoenix sensation Lukas Kelly-Heald called up for the first time.

Kelly-Heald is one of 10 Isuzu UTE A-League players in the team set to come up against Egypt on March 23 and one of Croatia or Tunisia in Abu Dhabi later in March.

The 18-year-old defender has flourished in his rookie A-Leagues season, making 20 appearances – 17 of those starts – for the high-flying Phoenix, who also have in-form Ben Old, Kosta Barbarouses, Alex Paulsen, Tim Payne and Finn Surman in the squad.

Perth Glory goalkeeper Oli Sail, Macarthur FC duo Clayton Lewis and Tommy Smith, and Dane Ingham of Newcastle Jets have also been selected by All Whites head coach Darren Bazeley.

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The All Whites will meet either Croatia or Tunisia depending on their result against Egypt in the United Arab Emirates.

Should they win, they will progress to the W Cup Final on March 27, while a third-place play-off will take place on March 26.

“For us as a team everything is focused on building towards qualifying for, and then competing at, the FIFA World Cup 2026, so this tournament is a perfect opportunity to play competitive games against highly ranked sides to see how we are tracking,” said Bazeley.

“It also gives us a great chance to test and refine our processes on and off the pitch to continually improve how we operate so that when qualifying comes around we are in the best place to perform

“It is also exciting to be naming a squad with eight players aged 23 or under who are eligible for the Olympics in July, including Lukas Kelly-Heald for the first time who has had a great season with the Phoenix. 

“Lukas is someone I have worked with regularly in age group sides and has earned his call-up to this level. 

“This is a big year for the team with FIFA World Cup qualifying starting, but I know all of the players selected, as well as the extended All Whites group not part of this squad, are really excited about the potential we have to do something special.”

All Whites squad

Max Crocombe (4 Caps) Burton Albion FC, England
Alex Paulsen (0 Caps) Wellington Phoenix FC, Aotearoa New Zealand
Oli Sail (9 Caps) Perth Glory FC, Australia

Tyler Bindon (4 Caps) Reading, England
Michael Boxall (47 Caps) Minnesota United, USA
Liberato Cacace (20 Caps) Empoli, Italy
Dane Ingham (13 Caps) Newcastle Jets, Australia
Lukas Kelly-Heald* (0 Caps) Wellington Phoenix, Aotearoa New Zealand
Tim Payne (34 Caps) Wellington Phoenix, Aotearoa New Zealand
Nando Pijnaker (18 Caps) Sligo Rovers, Republic of Ireland
Tommy Smith (51 Caps) Macarthur FC, Australia
Finn Surman (1 Caps) Wellington Phoenix, Aotearoa New Zealand

Joe Bell (18 Caps) Viking FK, Norway
Matthew Garbett (20 Caps) NAC Breda, Netherlands
Clayton Lewis (25 Caps) Macarthur FC, Australia
Callum McCowatt (17 Caps) Silkeborg IF, Denmark
Ben Old (2 Caps) Wellington Phoenix, Aotearoa New Zealand
Sarpreet Singh (12 Caps) Hansa Rostock, Germany
Marko Stamenic (19 Caps) Crvena zvezda, Serbia

Kosta Barbarouses (54 Caps) Wellington Phoenix, Aotearoa New Zealand
Elijah Just (20 Caps) AC Horsens, Denmark
Max Mata (9 Caps) Sligo Rovers, Republic of Ireland
Ben Waine (11 Caps) Plymouth Argyle, England
Chris Wood (74 Caps) Nottingham Forest, England