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Chris Wood: New Zealand's Europe-based stars face travel marathon

Burnley striker and New Zealand international Chris Wood discusses the travel issues of living in Europe while being part of his national team.

New Zealand forward Chris Wood has told ESPN FC that he and the All Whites' other Europe-based players must overcome the effects of a 36-hour journey before facing Peru in their World Cup qualifying playoff first leg in Wellington.

Burnley striker Wood, who has overcome a hamstring injury to take his place in the squad, and West Ham defender Winston Reid lead the group of six Europe-based players in Anthony Hudson's squad for the game on Saturday.

He said the battle to be ready for the first leg began the moment the players boarded the flight to New Zealand.

"It is easily a 24-hour journey, but you are probably looking at more like 36," Wood said.

"I would finish a game on the Saturday and be on a plane that night, then arrive on the Tuesday because I lose a day going back to New Zealand.

"There are no direct flights to New Zealand from the UK, so I'd be Manchester or Birmingham to Dubai, then Dubai straight down to Auckland, because they have a direct route now.

"But it's still seven hours to Dubai and 16-17 hours down to Auckland from Dubai, so it's a big chunk of actual flying time.

"So I'd be there [New Zealand] on a Tuesday for a Saturday game and then another Tuesday game the following week.

"I'd then fly back on Wednesday and get back to the UK on Thursday afternoon, so I miss a lot of training."

Chris Wood
Chris Wood said flying business class had boosted jetlag recovery.

After qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, New Zealand Football (NZF) invested some of the money for use on business class travel for players based outside Oceania.

Wood said that had been a crucial boost for preparations, adding: "We have an agreement with NZF that we get business class travel.

"Luckily, in the last five or six years we've been travelling business class, especially the guys who play in Europe.

"It's not for everybody and they could pull people if they aren't playing in one of the top European leagues -- that's the contract we have with them.

"It's the only way, really, because it takes two weeks easily to overcome the jet lag if you are flying in economy.

"I like to think I have got used to it [the travelling] over the years. I learn tricks in terms of how to adjust my body quickly, and the support staff down in New Zealand are great in terms of getting me into the right time zones and sleeping patterns.

"That's what it's all about -- sleeping patterns and changing them as quickly as possible."

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

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