Djed Spence’s dazzling displays in the FA Cup against English giants Arsenal and Leicester City have propelled the 21-year-old to the attention of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
The Croydon-born right back, who can also be utilised as a winger, has flourished this season on loan from Middlesbrough with English Championship outfit Nottingham Forest.
Following his swashbuckling performances to shock both Arsenal and defending champions Leicester City in the FA Cup, there was suddenly plenty of interest in Spence and former players heaping praise on Spence.
Top flight clubs got ready to swoop, which included EPL’s sides Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur as well as Italian heavyweights Inter Milan and AS Roma. However, Middlesbrough were swift to tie down the youngster and this month extended his contract for an additional year to 2024.
This deal has significantly increased his price tag, believed to be around the £25 million (US$33m) mark, with Middlesbrough ready to cash in on their star.
Spence’s stellar performances have also attracted the attention of the JFF, who are keen to improve their results following a dismal CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign with just a single win in 11 matches.
Paul Hall has taken on the mantle of interim head coach after Theodore Whitmore was given the boot in December, but he has lost all four games in charge.
Hall has just three more matches, all World Cup qualifiers, to show the JFF that he is the man to take Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz forward.
Next month the Boyz host El Salvador, visit table-topping Canada and close their campaign at Kingston’s National Stadium against Honduras when Spence’s services could be called upon for this trio of matches.
The JFF president Michael Ricketts has gone on record to state that he wants to see other players a chance on the international scene, and that the final World Cup qualifiers will offer this opportunity.
With Jamaica’s involvement in the CONCACAF Nations League kicking off in May, these games are the perfect chance to blood new players and also to potentially look at bringing in a new head coach.
Spence qualifies to represent Jamaica as his parents are from the Caribbean island. However, it has yet to be confirmed whether the JFF have made any formal approach to him.
Having come through the Youth Academy at Fulham, the club remodelled him from a whizzy winger to a full-back as they felt it was more suited to his game.
However, there remained question marks over his technical ability at Fulham, where he failed to make an appearance. The club released him, only for Spence to immediately bounce back from this disappointment to be snapped up by Middlesbrough in 2018.
Spence made 72 appearances for Middlesbrough, scooping the Championship Young Player of The Month accolade in January 2020, before joining Nottingham Forest last September for the 2021-22 season.
The younger brother of actress Karla-Simone Spence is now taking centre stage but he faces a dilemma of whether to accept any potential call-up from the JFF or to bide his time to represent England.
Lee Carsley is expected to include Spence, if available, in the England Under-21 squad for next month’s European Championship qualifiers. But obviously a senior appearance for the Boyz could prove a massive attraction.
Should Jamaica come knocking then Spence would join other England-based players who are part of the JFF’s future plans, such as West Ham United striker Michail Antonio and Brentford defender Ethan Pinnock.
An overhaul of the Jamaica squad is expected after the World Cup qualifiers have been completed, with calls for a shake-up at the JFF and also for a top-class head coach either from Brazil or bringing back former Jamaica manager John Barnes.
See Djed in action below:
Remember to share this article on Facebook and other Social Media Platforms. To submit your own articles or to advertise with us please send us an EMAIL at: [email protected]