England-based duo Antonio and Bailey set to be eclipsed by potential new star for Jamaica’s friendly in Spain
Jonson Clarke-Harris, the Peterborough Borough hot-shot, could be taking a step closer to kicking off his international career with Jamaica next month.
The prolific striker, who has bagged 44 goals in 87 appearances for the England Championship side, is on the radar of the managerless Reggae Boyz.
Jamaica’s big name English Premier League (EPL) stars, forward Michail Antonio and whizzy winger Leon Bailey, are nursing injuries. If Clarke-Harris is called up by the Boyz, then he could start the friendly against the Spanish region of Catalonia on 25 May.
The Boyz, slowly searching for a new head coach following their dishevelled displays in a dismal FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, will tackle Catalonia at the Montilivi Stadium in Girona.
This friendly, postponed from March 2021, is designed to look at some European-based players. Jamaica targets include the EPL stars Max Aarons (Norwich City defender), Demarai Gray (Everton forward), Mason Holgate (Everton defender) and Ivan Toney (Brentford striker).
However, many top-flight players with dual nationality competing in the EPL yearn to represent England rather than the Boyz.
Jamaica have a hectic schedule for June, with a trio of CONCACAF Nations League matches lined up. By finishing in the two top places of the three-team group games would result in automatic qualification for next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Boyz face South American sides, minnows Suriname (4 June & 7 June) and heavyweights Mexico (14 June), in Group A of the Nations League.
Clarke-Harris and other British-based targets for the Boyz may be called into action for Jamaica’s mouthwatering friendly against South American giants Uruguay on 11 June.
The 27-year-old kicked off his career by becoming the youngest player to ever appear for Coventry City (aged 16 years and 20 days). Clarke-Harris has been a journeyman, but since signing a four-year deal for Peterborough in 2020 has caught the eye of a plethora of top flight teams.
Clarke-Harris was honoured for his outstanding achievements during the 2020-21 season. His 31 league goals earned him the League One Golden Boot accolade and the League One Player of the Year Award. He also collected the club’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards in his breakthrough season.
Bringing in a relative raw talent of the calibre of Clarke-Harris has the possibility of paying rich dividends for whoever is at the helm as head coach for Jamaica.
The double blow of Bailey, who has struggled with injuries since his £25m (US$30m) move to Aston Villa from German team Bayer Leverkusen last summer, and West Ham’s Antonio could result in new faces for this month’s friendly.
Bailey is suffering from a twisted ankle, which forced him off the pitch last month against Norwich City. He has scored just once in 18 appearances this term, starting just seven times and only completing the full 90 minutes twice.
Antonio, who sustained a hip injury during last weekend’s demolition of EPL basement side Norwich, is seen as a mainstay of the Jamaica team. He has been spearheading of the attack since his disastrous debut last September, finding his feet on the international stage with his impressive physical strength to help hold up play.
With the chances of Bailey and possibility Antonio being unfit for the friendly showdown in Spain, Clarke-Harris could be thrown into the cauldron. Yet the British-born striker could come out of this month’s Catalonia clash as the new shining star that Jamaica need to guide them towards a brighter future.
25 May | Catalonia (a) | friendly
4 June | Suriname (a) | Nations League
7 June | Suriname (h)| Nations League
11 June | Uruguay (a) | friendly
14 June | Mexico (h) | Nations League
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