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1718 burnley chris wood 02 1000x500Chris Wood became the 78th Burnley player to represent his country and only the second to score a hat trick when he scored three in New Zealand’s 6-1 win against the Solomon Islands.

It was expected that Wood, captain of his country in the absence of West Ham’s Winston Reid, would be in the squad for the second leg of this Oceania World Cup qualifying play-off but he’s been released, along with PRC Zwolle’s Ryan Thomas, and allowed to return to England.

Provided nothing goes seriously wrong, New Zealand will face an intercontinental play-off against the fifth ranked South American team for a place in next summer’s finals and head coach Anthony Hudson believes his team can do that without the services of his two top players.

He said: “I have made the decision to release Chris and Ryan as we have the players within this group to win the game and finish the job. I wanted to either rest them on the bench or send them back early and I’ve decided to do the latter.

“We’re not taking anything for granted and it’s a matter of pride that we prepare correctly and go there to win. We know it is not going to be easy in Honiara and the objective of this group of players is simple; perform well, win the game and confirm our place in the intercontinental play-off. No one in our squad is thinking about November yet and we can’t afford to with what is at stake in this match.”

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