New Zealand have withdrawn from November’s international friendly with England, with the Three Lions confirming a new opponent will be declared soon.
The All Whites have not played a match in 2020, with their last fixtures coming back in November 2019 when they lost to the Republic of Ireland and Lithuania. Scheduled games against Bahrain and Oman were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The match against Gareth Southgate’s England was set for 12 November, but it has now been confirmed that the New Zealanders will not be present.
NZF CEO Andrew Pragnell said via their website: “It is with deep regret that we have been forced to cancel our participation in the upcoming match against England at Wembley.
“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.”
New Zealand will instead prepare for their internationals in March 2021, when they are scheduled to begin their qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
England, meanwhile, face Denmark on Wednesday night and have two more Nations League games against Belgium and Iceland in November. They currently lead Group 2 of League A by a point following their 2-1 win over Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils.