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England looking for new opponents after New Zealand pull out of friendly

England v Wales – International Friendly – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Glyn Kirk)

England’s international friendly against New Zealand in November has been called off due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gareth Southgate’s side were due to host the All Whites on Thursday November 12 at Wembley but England are now looking for new opponents.

New Zealand have withdrawn from the clash due to “further travel and player availability complications caused by Covid-19”.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said in a statement: “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.”

England are on the look out for new opponents at Wembley

England are on the look out for new opponents at Wembley (Michael Regan/PA)

All Whites head coach Danny Hay added: “I’m gutted, and I know the players will also be, but this is one of those situations we can’t do anything about.

“We always knew when planning for these fixtures that certain players would be unavailable but looking at the restrictions currently in place, as well as the rising number of Covid-19 cases across Europe, it just isn’t possible to put a competitive squad together.

“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.”

Head coach Danny Hay is

Head coach Danny Hay is “gutted” after New Zealand’s withdrawal from the Wembley clash (Brian Lawless/PA)

It was set to be only the third meeting between the two countries, and the first in England. The two previous matches were both part of the Three Lions’ 1991 summer tour of New Zealand when Graham Taylor’s team won 1-0 in Auckland and 2-0 in Wellington.

England wrote on their official Twitter account: “We can confirm New Zealand’s withdrawal from next month’s international friendly. We will announce replacement opposition in due course.”

The new opponents will be seen as preparation ahead of England’s final two UEFA Nations League Group A2 fixtures away to Belgium on November 15 and at home against Iceland three days later.