Ham­mers needed Reid to keep play­ing

Bid to avoid rel­e­ga­tion more press­ing than Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup

Weekend Herald - - WHAT’S ON - Michael Burgess

Ques­tions might be raised about Win­ston Reid’s ab­sence from the up­com­ing Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

It’s a huge set­back for the team, and one that ul­ti­mately may prove the dif­fer­ence be­tween get­ting a pos­i­tive re­sult in Rus­sia or not.

It’s also a sad case of deja vu for Reid, who missed New Zealand’s last sig­nif­i­cant foray on the world stage, in­jur­ing his knee at a West Ham train­ing days be­fore the first World Cup play­off game against Mex­ico at the Azteca Sta­dium in Novem­ber 2013.

No one is doubt­ing the va­lid­ity of his in­jury — a bone growth and cal­ci­fi­ca­tion in his left knee — but why did West Ham con­tinue to play him for the past month or so? He was able to train only the day be­fore games for the London club for the past six weeks, and was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pain when run­ning or kick­ing a ball.

With time off, he may have been able to get through at least two games in Rus­sia, likely to be a ca­reer highlight, then have surgery in late June af­ter the tour­na­ment. But that’s the utopian view.

The an­swer i s sim­ple; the Ham­mers needed Reid on board to en­sure they stayed out of the English Premier League rel­e­ga­tion zone, af­ter a dif­fi­cult cam­paign in which they strug­gled in their first sea­son at the London Olympic Sta­dium.

The 28- year- old is prob­a­bly the team’s best de­fender — no one has man­aged more clear­ances, in­ter­cep­tions or blocks at West Ham this sea­son — and the club pay his wages.

That’s the un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity. The sil­ver lin­ing is that Reid should be avail­able for Novem­ber’s World Cup in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­offs against the fifth- placed South Amer­i­can side, should the All Whites progress through the Ocea­nia fi­nals in Au­gust.

While it’s noth­ing new for Reid to be ab­sent from the na­tional team — since play­ing seven matches in his de­but in­ter­na­tional year in 2010 ( in­clud­ing the World Cup), he has man­aged only 14 games — he’ll leave a mas­sive void. Reid gave a re­minder of his abil­i­ties against Mex­ico and the United States last year, when he was one of the best play­ers on the field, with his or­gan­i­sa­tion, com­po­sure and an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Like Ryan Nelsen used to, Reid makes other play­ers around him sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter and also brings so much off the field, es­pe­cially for the younger mem­bers of All Whites coach An­thony Hud­son’s squad. But there is depth in the cen­tral de­fen­sive po­si­tion, with Tommy Smith, Michael Box­all, Themi Tz­i­mopou­los and An­drew Du­rante the main con­tenders.

The Ham­mers needed Reid on board to en­sure they stayed out of the English Premier League rel­e­ga­tion zone, af­ter a dif­fi­cult cam­paign in which they have strug­gled in their first sea­son at the London Olympic Sta­dium.

Pic­ture / Getty Im­ages

Win­ston Reid’s sea­son has been ham­pered by in­jury as his club West Ham laboured to avoid be­ing dragged into the Premier League rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle.

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