Soccer-Rojas returns for New Zealand's World Cup playoff


WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand have recalled experienced winger Marco Rojas and defender Michael Boxall to their squad for next month's World Cup playoff against Costa Rica but attacking midfielder Sarpreet Singh misses out because of injury.

Rojas and Boxall, who missed the Oceania qualifying tournament in March because of club commitments and injury respectively, join a 26-man squad also featuring Newcastle United forward Chris Wood.

Singh, who plays in Germany's second tier for Jahn Regensburg, has been struggling with a long-term pelvic injury that has kept him on the sidelines for much of this year.

As expected, PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ryan Thomas was also absent from the squad as he recovers from a long-term knee injury.

"I’m very happy with the squad we have assembled. This is a group that understands how we want to play and what is expected of them," coach Danny Hay said in a news release.

"While it is unfortunate that Sarpreet Singh and Ryan Thomas are missing with injury, it is great we are able to bring Marco Rojas and Michael Boxall back after they weren't available in March.

"We know this is a massive moment for football in New Zealand and I believe these are the players that give us the best possible chance of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup later this year."

The All Whites, who previously qualified for the World Cup in 1982 and 2010 but have yet to win a game, will face Costa Rica in Doha on June 14 with a spot in the 2022 finals on the line.

New Zealand will warm up for the match with a friendly against Peru in Barcelona on June 5 and another international against an as yet unannounced opponent behind closed doors in Doha on June 9.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Chris Reese)

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