Leeds United striker Chris Wood allayed any remaining concern about his fitness by firing New Zealand into the final of the OFC Nations Cup.
Wood scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over New Caledonia today, moving the All Whites to within one game of qualification for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
The New Zealand captain was feared to have dislocated a shoulder in a group game against the Solomon Islands last week but examinations of the injury ruled out any serious damage and he was passed fit to start this morning's semi-final.
News of his recovery will come as a boost to new Leeds head coach Garry Monk, who has told his players to report in for the start of pre-season training at the end of this month, but Wood’s finishing touch has also been apparent in Papua New Guinea.
His 49th-minute winner against New Caledonia - a long-range free-kick - was his third goal in four games and New Zealand will now play hosts Papua New Guinea in the final on Saturday.
The forward struck from around 35 yards with a strike which bounced through the hands of New Caledonia goalkeeper Jelen Ixoee.
Wood, who joined Leeds in a £3m move from Leicester City last June, came in for criticism during his first season at Elland Road and was troubled by hamstring injuries but four goals in his final five appearances saw him finish the term as United’s top scorer with 13.
He told a local radio station in New Zealand that his decision to leave Leicester a year ago was the right move for his career, despite City defying odds of 5000-1 to lift the Premier League title last month.
“Sitting in the stands back in Leicester, it wouldn’t have done anything for me,” Wood said. “So no, I’m glad I got out and got game time and started playing consistently again. That’s what I wanted.”