Demarai Gray inching closer to Boyz clearance
Everton's Demarai Gray (centre) and Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell (right) vie for the ball during an English Premier League match at Selhurst Park in London, England, on Saturday, April 22, 2023.(Photo: AP)

JAMAICA Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says Everton player Demarai Gray is close to gaining clearance for his debut with the Reggae Boyz.

Gray, 26, has been scouted for a number of months by the JFF as senior men's team Head Coach Heimir Halgrímsson puts together a squad he believes can not only win the Concacaf Gold Cup this summer, but also qualify Jamaica for the FIFA World Cup in 2026.

Ricketts says Team Manager Roy Simpson told him that the documentation process for Gray is going smoothly and is close to completion.

"We've had discussions with Gray," Ricketts said on Friday. "I spoke with the manager some days ago and he assured me that the paperwork is okay and that he will be available. In fact, he assured me that he will have Demarai's passport in his hand very soon so we are hoping he'll definitely be a part of the set-up."

RICKETTS...we want to go a step further than to get to the final. (Photo: Michael Gordon)

Gray was named in a provisional list required by Concacaf ahead of the Gold Cup.

Jamaica travels to Austria ahead of the Gold Cup, where they will play two warm-up games against Qatar and Jordan on June 15 and 19, respectively. This is days before their first Gold Cup game against hosts and defending champions the United States of America (USA) on June 24.

Ricketts says he will be speaking with Halgrímsson this week to ensure that team affairs are in order ahead of the trip to Europe.

"This is part of the Gold Cup preparation," he said. "They will leave from Austria and head straight to Chicago; I think they get there on the 21st.

"We are hoping that we'll be able to do well at the Gold Cup. We want to go a step further than to get to the final. I think the coach has done a pretty decent job in relation to the preparation, both mentally and physically. We want to ensure that we execute on the day and get some results."

Jamaica finished runners-up at the Gold Cup in 2015 and 2017, and had a semi-final appearance in 2019. They went out at the quarter-final stage to the USA at the last tournament in 2021 but Halgrímsson says that his objective, like Ricketts, is to win the cup this year.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator

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