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JFF boss says chase still on for Leon Bailey

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Since the start of the 2017-2018 European club football season, one of the most-talked-about young players has been Bayer Leverkusen winger, Jamaican-born Leon Bailey.

The 20-year-old is yet to make his international senior debut for Jamaica and missed out on another opportunity on the last FIFA match day when Jamaica played Saudi Arabia in a friendly in that country.

While questions still linger about whether or not the precocious young talent will pull on the black, green and gold jersey, the president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Michael Ricketts insists that Bailey is a part of his plans going forward.

“We started a process of inviting Leon Bailey. It never materialised for our last game that we played against Saudi Arabia, but this will be an ongoing effort and we think that Leon Bailey is an excellent player. Jamaica's football needs someone like Leon Bailey or needs players like Leon Bailey. We want the best team for Jamaica and if Leon is numbered among the best then obviously he will be invited,” Ricketts insisted.

The newly eleced president says his administration wants to have the best players representing the country, regardless of where they are based.

“We want the best team; it doesn't matter where you are from. We are working with our local-based players, but if there are players who are abroad who are good enough to make the team then certainly they would be invited,” said Ricketts.

Bailey's representative Craig Butler has been in the middle of a rift with the JFF over terms and conditions that would see the young star represent the country, but while that remains unresolved, Ricketts says that the JFF isn't against people making recommendations about players.

“The JFF operates that way, that if we know that you are knowledgeable about the sport and you want to recommend a player, even though it's the coach's prerogative, I don't think the coach will have a problem looking at the player. Whether or not he is good enough to make the team is another issue. I am absolutely sure that he (the coach) will look at other players alongside Leon Bailey and certainly the players that Craig would have recommended. But it is the coach's prerogative to select the best players that will go on the field,” the JFF boss outlined.

The Clarendon man also insisted that there is no intervention by him with regard to player selection or team selection at any time.

“It's the coach's business (to select the players). I could say to him that I know a player that I would like you to look at but I would not say to him that you must play this player and you must pick this team; that's none of my business. My business is to run the JFF, his business is to coach and that is what he is employed to do,” Ricketts noted.

The JFF head also took the time to appeal to his detractors to get on board and support the new administration.

“I think I have the personnel, I have the machinery, but I want to use the opportunity to ask the detractors to please fall in line now and support the football and support me. The politics is over, I am now the president, let us just work together. The innuendos and diatribe won't help us right now. Let us just fall in line and give whatever support you can give and let us build the football,” he demanded.

— Dwayne Richards