Phoenix pair in line for New Zealand debuts, Macarthur star also called up

Alex Paulsen is in New Zealand's squad for a pair of internationals. This is his dramatic penalty save from Round 2.

Wellington Phoenix’s unbeaten start to the Isuzu UTE A-League has seen three of their players called up for New Zealand’s international friendlies against Greece and Republic of Ireland.

Phoenix trio Alex Paulsen, Finn Surman and Tim Payne are in the 23-player squad, and so is Macarthur FC midfielder Clayton Lewis for the November 18 clash with Greece and the Republic of Ireland showdown four days later.

Wellington goalkeeper Paulsen has been in fine form this season, making himself a hero with a couple of eye-catching performances in the opening rounds and the 21-year-old could be in line for a senior international debut.

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It is not the first time Paulsen has been called up to the senior squad. The age-group international – who recently signed a new contract – was an unused substitute in the All Whites’ two internationals against the Socceroos last year.

‘Nix defender Surman, 20, is also in contention for a New Zealand bow.

“It is great to welcome back some of the A-League Men players now that their season is underway,” said head coach Darren Bazeley after Isuzu UTE A-League-based players missed the October window, which included games against DR Congo and Australia.

“These are another two good games against tough European sides but tests like this are only going to improve us as a team as we look towards FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying starting next year. 

“It is also pleasing to have six players in this squad who will be eligible for next year’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games as we continue to look to build the alignment between our senior and age group sides.”

With an eye on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Bazeley has named six players who are eligible for Under-23 selection for the major event: Tyler Bindon, Matt Garbett, Alex Paulsen, Marko Stamenic, Finn Surman and Ben Waine. 

Match details
Greece v New Zealand
Kick-off: 7:00pm November 17 (local) / 6:00am November 18 (NZT)
Georgios Kamaras Stadium, Athens

Match details
Republic of Ireland v New Zealand
Kick-off: 7:45pm November 21 (local) / 8:45am November 22 (NZT)
Aviva Stadium, Dublin

New Zealand’s squad

Goalkeepers: Max Crocombe (Burton Albion), Alex Paulsen (Wellington Phoenix), Michael Woud (Ventforet Kofu)

Defenders: Tyler Bindon (Reading), Michael Boxall (Minnesota United), Liberato Cacace (Empoli), Tim Payne (Wellington Phoenix), Nando Pijnaker (Sligo Rovers), Tommy Smith (MK Dons), Finn Surman (Wellington Phoenix), Dalton Wilkins (Kolding IF)

Midfielders: Joe Bell (Viking FK), Matthew Garbett (NAC Breda), Clayton Lewis (Macarthur FC),
Callum McCowatt (Silkeborg IF), Sarpreet Singh (Hansa Rostock), Marko Stamenic (Red Star Belgrade)

Forwards: Joe Champness (Adanaspor), Alex Greive (St Mirren), Eli Just (AC Horsens), Max Mata (Shrewsbury Town), Ben Waine (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Wood (Nottingham Forest)