Four players with Jamaican heritage, set to ply their trade in the 2020-21 English Premier League (EPL), are being considered by England manager Gareth Southgate.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Mason Holgate (Everton), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) and Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) are all expected to soon have showdown talks with Southgate and snub Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz to pick England.
With a total of 124 players born to Jamaican parents in England or who have Jamaican grandparents, competing in the English top four divisions there is always going to be some talent to unearth for the Boyz. However, England often likes to steam in and persuade leading players that they should consider wearing the White Lions shirt rather than pull on a Jamaica golden jersey.
Yet England has a recent bad reputation of pleading with players who have international choices to commit to their country of birth, only to then discard them after one or two matches.
Greenwood, the Bradford-born 18-year-old forward has already played for England at U21 level. Holgate, the Doncaster-born 23-year-old, has been particularly impressive at centre back since Carlo Anceloti took over the helm at Everton last December. Maitland-Niles, the London-born 22-year-old versatile midfielder, is on the radar of a clutch of top tier German clubs. And Phillips, the Leeds-born 24-year-old defensive midfielder, was widely considered to be the best player in the English Championship last season.
Jamaican football agent Devon Porter, who has been recommending players to the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) since 1996, stated on the island’s popular television show TVJ Sports that he does not believe Greenwood would choose to play for Jamaica because he has the potential to reach great heights with Manchester United.
However, Porter was more upbeat about the other trio of players. He claimed: “Phillips is passionate about his Jamaican heritage and is extremely interested in representing that country.”
Porter added that Holgate and Maitland-Niles are less likely to play on a regular basis for England, because of the strong competition for their positions.
Jamaica head coach Roy Simpson also spoke to TVJ Sports and explained: “Any decision is for each player to make for himself, but if any of the four players do not provide their services to Jamaica then the squad can’t continue to remain Qatar-motivated and can’t continue to carry the hopes of Jamaican people.”
Jamaica need to be ready to kick-off their campaign to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar and, now the schedule for the qualifying format has been announced by CONCACAF, the addition of quality players is of paramount importance. The Boyz are due to begin their Qatar 2022 qualifiers next summer.
Head coach Theodore Whitmore has often had his hands tied with respect to bringing in overseas players because of the JFF’s finances, which has upset present players – such as recent recruited Leon Bailey – as well as former internationals.
If Whitmore is offered some additional talent to boost his ever-improving squad, then there seems no reason why the Boyz are not competing in their first World Cup finals since their debut in the France ’98 tournament – when Whitmore played a significant role on the pitch.
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