Reggae Boyz name 40 players to tackle next month’s tournament
Leon Bailey and Ravel Morrison, the midfield marvels, have been included in Jamaica’s 40-player preliminary squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The talented pair, who have yet to represent the Reggae Boyz at senior level, are seen as welcome additions following some recent stuttering performances by Theodore Whitmore’s troops.
Kingston-born Bailey, currently recovering from a hamstring injury with club Bayer Leverkusen, is aiming to be fit by the 7 June deadline of when head coach Whitmore announces his trimmed down squad to tackle next month’s Gold Cup.
The 21-year-old, who turned down a 2017 move to Chelsea when Italian Antonio Conte was manager, has been constantly monitored by a string of top flight English clubs – including Liverpool and Manchester United – since he burst onto the European arena as a fearless teenager with Belgian outfit Genk.
Bailey represented Jamaica in a 2015 U23 friendly against hosts Cayman Islands, and scored from a free-kick after appearing as a late substitute, but had been overlooked by the Jamaica Football Federations for numerous reasons.
Morrison, the former Manchester United starlet and ex-England youth international, plays for Ostersunds in Sweden and joins the national set-up after acquiring a Jamaican passport.
The 26-year-old, who has a checkered past both on and off the field, played for English clubs Birmingham City, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United before joining Italian side Lazio who soon shipped him out on loan at Atlas in Mexico.
Daniel Johnson, who plies his trade for English Championship outfit Preston North End (PNE), joins Bailey and Morrison as a midfielder receiving his first Jamaica call-up to the provisional squad.
The Kingston-born 26-year-old has netted 26 goals in 148 appearances for PNE, having kicked off his career with Crystal Palace schoolboys. He then spent five years at Aston Villa, but failed to make a first team appearance – although was an unused sub – and was endlessly sent out on loan before signing up with PNE in 2015.
The English-based defensive pair of regulars, Michael Hector (Sheffield Wednesday) and Adrian Mariappa (Watford), have been named in the preliminary squad along with Slovenia-based striker Shamar Nicholson (Domžale).
Some 14 members from the 2017 Gold Cup squad, which reached the final against the United States, are named. These include influential skipper and goalkeeper Andre Blake, in-form Kemar Lawrence and Romario Williams.
Surprisingly, not one single player with leading Jamaican National Premier League side Waterhouse has been selected.
The remaining players for Jamaica’s preliminary squad comprises: Kemar Bennett, Javain Brown, Rennico Clarke, Rashawn Dally, Javon East, Junior Flemmings, Malique Foster, Shaun Francis, Owayne Gordon, Kevaughn Issacs, Amal Knight, Kevon Lambert, Andre Lewis, Damion Lowe, Alex Marshall, Darren Mattocks, Fabion McCarthy, Dwayne Miller, Ricardo Morris, Dever Orgill, Kaheem Parris, Alvas Powell, Ladale Richie, Jordan Scarlett, Tevin Shaw, Ajeanie Talbott, Jamoi Topey, Peter Lee Vassell, Je-Vaughn Watson, Jeadine White and Devon Williams.
Jamaica kick-off their bid to make it a hat-trick of Gold Cup finals on the bounce when they face highly rated Honduras on 17 June at the National Stadium in Kingston.
Whether fans of the Boyz will get to see Bailey donning a gold shirt for that match is anyone’s guess, but the home supporters will have something to cheer as the squad is finally getting strengthened.
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