UK invasion! JFF to meet McAnuff, 8 others in England
THE highly-rated Jermaine Beckford and Jobi McAnuff head a list of nine Englishbased players that a Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) scouting team, led by president Captain Horace Burrell, will approach to bolster the Reggae Boyz squad in a final thrust for World Cup qualification.
Burrell will leave the island for the United Kingdom on a 12-day scouting mission on Thursday and will be accompanied by head coach Theodore Whitmore and Brazilian assistant Alfredo Montesso.
The influential trio will watch five matches in the UK; meet nine new players with Jamaican roots; as well as hold meetings with players who have already been part of the national set-up, including striker Ricardo Fuller.
“We will not only be searching for new players, but also those who can work with our programme and following up other players as well. We’re looking forward to seeing five games in the UK; we are looking to talk to nine players,” said Montesso.
Reading midfielder and captain McAnuff (31) and 29-year-old striker Beckford — formerly of Premier League outfit Everton and now at Huddersfield Town — are two of the more familiar names that have shown interest in representing the country.
The others include Swansea City 24-yearold winger Nathan Dyer; Reading defender Shaun Cummings (23), and 25-year-old winger Gareth McCleary; Queen’s Park Rangers’ 22-yearold winger David Hoilett; Derby County’s 23-year-old striker Theo Robinson; Newcastle right-back Danny Simpson (25), and 27-year-old team-mate, defender James Perch.
Burrell and company will begin their mission a day after arriving in England and are scheduled to watch the Swansea City-Chelsea Premier League game on Saturday.
The following day they ‘kill four birds with one stone’ when they watch QPR vs Reading.
Derby County will meet Barnsley in the English Championship on November 6, while the following Saturday in the Premier League, Newcastle will play West Ham.
The trip is part of the JFF’s bid, as described by Burrell, to find the “best 11” players to take the field as Jamaica aim to qualify for their second senior World Cup Finals.
“If it’s that the best players are local based... and are here playing in the local Premier League, they will be on the field. If it is that we don’t have any and our better players are abroad... I can tell you that for the final phase we will be pulling out all the stops,” said Burrell.
“One of the things we’ll be doing when we go to the United Kingdom is sit with the clubs and players and have a fulsome discussion on all the issues and unite the family, because the best 11 is going to be on that field — no two ways about that,” noted Burrell.
“We have a player in David Hoilett who was in Jamaica and watched one of the games. We have another player who was so excited he even had his wife speak with me. That player is Jermaine Beckford,” Burrell revealed.
He said he will also be making a stop at Liverpool to speak with Jamaican-born teen prodigy Raheem Sterling, who hails from Maverley in St Andrew and was invited to the England senior squad.
“Based on the FIFA rules he is still eligible to play for Jamaica. We think that it’s worthwhile to speak with the agents and so on,” added Burrell.
Considered the next best England player, Burrell was quizzed as to whether or nor Sterling was interested in playing for the land of his birth.
“We’ll not assume anything, but to ascertain the facts. The policy of the JFF... the player has to be wanting to wear the Jamaican colours. We’re not interested in any players who have no interest. That’s not what this trip is about,” Burrell said.