Return Of Overseas Players For Reggae Boyz But No Surprises

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Morrison missing from Jamaica squad

Ravel Morrison, who recently switched allegiance to Jamaica, has not been named in Theodore Whitmore’s 23-player squad that tackle Ecuador and the Cayman Islands.

But it is believed that his involvement with the Boyz has merely been postponed due to personal issues with the player entering the United States because of his previous brushes with the law in England.

Head coach Whitmore has mildly shaken up his squad due to Friday’s friendly in New Jersey, USA being swiftly followed by their CONCACAF Nations League opening game at Kingston’s National Stadium.

FIFA stipulate that players cannot play more than one game in under 48 hours so Whitmore has a juggling act to perform.

British-based pair Michael Hector and Adrian Mariappa return to the squad for the first time since Winfried Schäfer left his role as head coach.

Defender Damion Lowe, who plies his trade in the top flight for Norway with IK Start, is recalled and joins US-based players that include shotstopper Andre Blake, defensive duo Kemar Lawrence and Alvas Powell and hot-shot striker Cory Burke.

The squad boasts numerous of the island’s top talent that have excelled recently. Although there are notable absentees in the shape of Oneil Fisher, Maalique Foster and Cavalier’s Kaheem Parris.

Fabion McCarthy has been drafted in at the last gasp to replace originally selected DC United defender/midfielder Fisher.

McCarthy, the University of West Indies defensive midfielder, was fielded by the Boyz as an emergency right back for last month’s two-game tour of the eastern Caribbean.

And Portmore United star Foster is jetting off to Costa Rican outfit CD Alajuelense on loan.

Reggae Boyz celebrate at Gold Cup 2015 – via Youtube

With Morrison, the one player who was anticipated to add bite to the squad, not selected and no nod for such big name stalwarts as Leicester City veteran defender Wes Morgan then the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) may be waiting to unearth new names with the focus firmly on qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals.

Morrison, 25, an attacking midfielder for Club Atlas in Mexico on loan from Italy’s Serie A side Lazio, has seen his career hindered by disciplinary issues.

Yet he is enjoying his spell in South America with three goals from 18 appearances and has pinned his hopes on representing the Boyz now that he has a passport for Jamaica.

Hector, 26, is another whose goal is to play at Qatar 2022. He signed with English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on loan from Chelsea on Friday’s transfer deadline. But Mariappa, 31, who plays for Watford may be past his sell-by date in four years.

Whitmore has rarely resorted to utilising overseas players since Jamaica’s failed bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals, and has since discovered some raw yet talented islanders.

However, JFF’s mission is to put Jamaica back on the football map and Whitmore is making an impact in his role.

But his next challenge is when he will be forced to juggle his squad to tackle back-to-back games kicking off with Ecuador at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Friday (7pm ko).

Cayman Islands are minnows in the region and face a stiff test against the Boyz inside Kingston’s Nation Stadium for their CONCACAF Nations League tie that has been switched to 6pm kick-off on Sunday.

The friendly will be an exhibition match whereas the competitive game in front of home fans is how Whitmore will be judged.

Reggae Boyz squad: Ladale Richie, Ricardo Morris, Javon East, Amal Knight, Peter Vassell, Tevin Shaw, Ricardo Thomas, Fabian Reid, Jeadine White, Andre Blake, Fabion McCarthy, Damion Lowe, Owayne Gordon, Romario Williams, Darren Mattocks, Kevon Lambert, Cory Burke, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Alvas Powell, Je-Vaughn Watson, Michael Hector, Alex Marshall

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