All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has withdrawn from the international match with China with niggling ankle and knee injuries.
17-year-old Cameron Howieson has been called up to the squad and will travel from his Burnley home overnight to link up the rest of the All Whites squad in Shanghai later today.
Nelsen and medical staff have been managing the injuries for the past month and he has not trained with his QPR club between matches in the English Premier League.
"Ryan is committed to our programme and is a key asset to our campaign to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil," said New Zealand Football High Performance Director Fred de Jong.
"It's not unique for a team to manage their athletes as best as they can, Ryan is 35 years old and we want to do all we can to make sure he is fit to play in our FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March and again in November next year if necessary."
De Jong was aware the stance could leave New Zealand Football open to criticism in the wake of Winston Reid's situation during the FIFA World Cup" qualifiers with Tahiti last month, but was quick to stress the difference in scenarios.
"The window in October was for Official Matches whereas this window is for Friendly Matches, which is a tighter timeframe," said de Jong.
The FIFA rules around release of players for Official Matches is five days prior to the window, whereas Friendly Matches is 48 hours.
"We were able to treat Winston on arrival in New Zealand for at least four days before the match with Tahiti in Christchurch. With the China game we're talking hours rather than days," said de Jong.
The last of the England-based All Whites arrive in Shanghai
later today, with the match scheduled for Wednesday evening.