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New Zealand withdraw from England friendly at Wembley due to coronavirus complications

FA say a replacement will be announced in due course

New Zealand were due to face England in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium on November 12
Image: New Zealand were due to face England in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium on November 12

New Zealand have withdrawn from next month's international friendly against England due to travel and player availability complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

England were due to host the All Whites at a behind-closed-doors Wembley Stadium on November 12, before their Nations League fixture in Belgium three days later, but the FA say they will now announce a replacement opposition.

Gareth Southgate's side, who host Denmark in the UEFA Nations League on Wednesday, beat Wales 3-0 in a friendly last Thursday and then overcame Belgium 2-1 to maintain their unbeaten Nations League campaign.

Mason Mount celebrates his winning goal against Belgium
Image: England host Denmark on Wednesday

New Zealand are yet to play an international match in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic after proposed friendlies in March against Bahrain and Oman were cancelled.

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said: "It is not an action taken lightly, this is a match we all wanted to play, however, as it stands of the last All Whites squad selected for the November 2019 tour, even excluding the New Zealand based players, a significant number of the team would be subject to quarantine or restrictions on their return home.

"This would heavily disrupt their domestic seasons and potentially jeopardise their professional careers.

"The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under Covid means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley on this day and defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option."

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New Zealand will now prepare for the March 2021 international window when they are scheduled to begin their qualifying campaign for the World Cup in 2022.

All Whites head coach Danny Hay said: "We all want to be playing more games but coming up against one of the top sides in the world with a heavily understrength team doesn't do anything to help our long-term development."

England have played New Zealand twice before, both fixtures came during a 1991 summer tour with Graham Taylor's side winning 1-0 in Auckland and then 2-0 in Wellington.

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