Hayden Phillips will play his first game for the Black Sticks since last year’s Rio Olympics at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia later this month.
The 18-year-old midfielder, sidelined from international competition with a foot injury, has been named in coach Darren Smith’s 18-strong squad for the prestigious invitational tournament which begins on April 27.
Ranked eighth in the world, the Black Sticks will tackle hosts Malaysia, world No.2 Australia – under former New Zealand coach Colin Batch – Britain, India and Japan.
North Harbour midfielder George Muir is another to return from injury, after undergoing shoulder surgery last year.
“I’m excited to be back in black playing for New Zealand again – it’s been a long time between Test matches so I can’t wait to get to Malaysia and into tournament mode,” Muir said.
Experienced defender Arun Panchia will again captain the side, after leading New Zealand during their recent series against Pakistan in Wellington and Wairarapa.
Several players have been ruled out of selection with injury, including Simon Child, Nick Haig and Brad Read while James Coughlan is unavailable with work commitments.
Others still have club commitments in the Belgium and Dutch leagues, which are now approaching the playoff stages.
Smith says while the team is light on experience, it’s a great opportunity for the group that played against Pakistan to step up.
“We would have liked to take away a more experienced group, but unfortunately there are a lot of players either unavailable or injured,” he said.
“Many of these guys saw playing time during the Pakistan series and I thought they performed well, although this will be another big step up for them.”
Black Sticks: Cory Bennett, David Brydon, Robert Creffier, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce, Jonty Keaney, Kim Kingstone, Sam Lane, Devon Manchester, Leo Mitai-Wells, Harry Miskimmin, George Muir, Dominic Newman, Arun Panchia (captain), Hayden Phillips, Nick Ross, Alex Shaw, Mac Wilcox.