JFF nets eight - Beckford, McAnuff among recruits from UK trip

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Friday, November 23, 2012

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THE recruitment of eight foreign-raised players is being viewed as a first step towards their possible inclusion in a Reggae Boyz squad seeking to strengthen its ranks for next year's final round CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament.

Following an intense two-week mission to the United Kingdom, led by Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and included head coach Theodore Whitmore and assistant Alfredo Montesso, seven British-born players and one Germany-based player have given "convincing indications" that they want to wear the colours of their ancestral home.

For those excited by the prospects of more professional players joining the team for the Brazil 2014 campaign, Whitmore warned that getting the players to commit to the cause should not be viewed as automatic selection to the squad.

"As I said before, it's a process. We have to look at what we have and we have confidence in what we have been working with over the last three years...

"It's now down to me and the technical staff to sit and look where some of these players can fit in and how they can help us," he said at a press conference yesterday.

"We have to be careful as we don't want to forget players who have taken us this far," said Whitmore, a former Jamaica standout.

At yesterday's brief session at the JFF offices to give details of the United Kingdom mission, Burrell publicly revealed that the Reading pair of Jobi McAnnuff (31, midfielder) and Garath McCleary (25, forward); Watford's Lloyd Doyley (29, defender); Huddersfield's Jermaine Beckford (28, forward) and James Vaughn (24, forward); Karsruher's (Germany) Daniel Gordon (27, midfielder); Burnley's Marvin Bartley (26, midfielder); Derby County's Theo Robinson (23, forward) have offered themselves for service.

Also, there are moves to confirm 19-year-old West Ham midfielder Ravel Morrison for the Under-20 Boyz who are due to have their CONCACAF final play-offs in Puebla, Mexico in February next year.

While Burrell deemed the scouting and fact-finding mission an overall success, there were instances of letdown. The three-man Jamaican delegation also sought to court Queens Parks Rangers winger, 22-year-old David Hoilett; the Newcastle pair of defender/midfielder James Perch, 26, and defender Danny Simpson, 25, and Swansea City winger Nathan Dyer, 24, but were not convinced of their level of "desire and commitment".

"We want players who are prepared to die for the country on the field of play and I've not picked that up with some of these players. I must say I'm particularly disappointed in Hoilett as he keeps saying he wants more time...

"If we qualify for the World Cup he will not be invited as that wouldn't be fair to those who have worked hard in getting the team to Brazil... While I respect his position, we will not be waiting around for anyone," Burrell said.

In the case of Dyer, Burrell said the player's agent told him that "the player will not be available until next simmer, but by that time we will be in Brazil".

"What is happening is that some agents are discouraging the players because they are protecting their interest as they claim Jamaica is too far away and their clients may lose their places in their teams, and that... mitigates against us getting those players," Burrell noted.

For those who have committed, he said the process of acquiring Jamaican passports have begun in some cases and should be completed in time for the first final-round game against Mexico on February 6.

The scouting process, Burrell indicated, will be ongoing in keeping with the JFF's philosophy of having "the best 11 on the pitch at all times".

"Once you qualify as having Jamaican roots and have the desire and commitment, then the door will be open... but... any player invited... must bring something better than what we have here, and that's a pre-condition," he declared.

Burrell said the trip was beneficial for a number of reasons beyond wooing players to the national squad.

"It was a successful trip because we got a chance to interact with the players and, in a lot of cases, we got a chance to see them at work (playing)...

"More so, the technical staff was able to have one-on-one talks with them. We spoke with managers, club officials, agents... so our sojourn... gave knowledge across many important areas of the professional football set-up," he said.

Jamaica will engage the USA, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras in a 30-match home-and-away series for three automatic berths to the World Cup Finals in Brazil. The fourth-placed finisher will face the winner of the Oceana group in a two-way tie for an additional spot.

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