Burnley youngster Howieson gets Olympic call!

OLYMPIC CALL: Cameron Howieson
OLYMPIC CALL: Cameron Howieson

YOUNG Claret Cameron Howieson has been named in the New Zealand squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Having recently earned his first full caps in the Oceania Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying, the 17-year-old was expected to be named in the Under 23 squad in his homeland.

And the first-year professional got the nod yesterday.

The All Whites will be captained by new QPR signing Ryan Nelsen, with Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith likely to be vice-captain for the football tournament, which kicks off at the end of next month.

New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general and selector Kereyn Smith said: “Football in New Zealand has gone from strength to strength.

“Participation numbers in the sport are high and we acknowledge the power of the players, in particular leaders like Ryan Nelsen, to keep this momentum alive.

“Ryan’s influence in particular will be massive for a group that includes players as young as 17.

“Then you throw in the likes of Smith and the team core has got a good solid look to it.”

Former Wolves midfielder Neil Emblen, who will coach the squad, added: “The over-age players give us a good balance and experience down the spine of the team. We’ve been able to pick the All Whites premier defender, first choice midfielder and most prolific striker.

“Ryan’s influence in particular will be massive for a group that includes players as young as 17 and any time you can include a player in your squad that was commonly regarded as one of the best at the World Cup in South Africa it’s a boost for your side’s chances.”

New Zealand, who will have 13 full internationals in their squad, will face Belarus on July 26th at Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena, which will be known as the City of Coventry Stadium during the games, Egypt at Old Trafford on July 29th, and then Brazil at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park on August 1st in Group C.

Beforehand, the Kiwis will face Japan in Tokyo on July 11th, Korea in Seoul on the 14th and a final friendly with the UAE on July 19th, with the venue to be decided.

The squad is: Jake Gleeson, Michael O’Keeffe, Ian Hogg, Tim Myers, Tommy Smith, Ryan Nelsen, Adam Thomas, James Musa, Tim Payne, Michael McGlinchey, Alex Feneridis, Cameron Howieson, Adam McGeorge, Kosta Barbarouses, Shane Smeltz, Chris Wood, Marco Rojas, Dakota Lucas.