Boyz in misery
Reggae Boyz suffer numerous injury setbacks; West Ham forward Antonio withdraws due to 'logistical difficulties'Wednesday, October 06, 2021
BY IAN BURNETT
AUSTIN, Texas — Injuries have ravaged the 23-man Reggae Boyz squad selected for tomorrow's crucial Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Concacaf Qualifier here against hosts, the United States.
Three players, Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and Daniel Johnson, have all pulled out with injuries.
According to reports, Preston North End's midfielder Johnson pulled out of the squad to protect a minor injury he received against Queens Park Rangers last Saturday.
The report further noted that North End have described it as a “precautionary” measure.
Pinnock received a knock during his last game, while it was reported that Moore had a scan done which indicated that his injury was worse than originally thought.
But as players gathered at the team's base yesterday, news broke that West Ham United's striker Michael Antonio had also pulled out of this three-game series which could make or break Jamaica's chances of advancing to Qatar next year. “I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future,” the player was quoted in a statement.
However, when pressed by the Jamaica Observer about that nature of the “logistical and travel difficulties” put forward by the player, vis-à-vis the importance of the next three games, a source, which requested anonymity, indicated that the player turned down the invite after his request to have his personal physiotherapist accompany him on the trip (all expenses paid by the player) was not guaranteed.
The source explained that on Sunday a member of the Reggae Boyz's technical staff received a call from Antonio's agent who notified him of his plans to apply for a mandatory travel exemption for the physio to accompany the player to the US.
The technical staff informed the agent that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) had already received exemptions for all its members coming out of Europe to enter the US, and that if the JFF had been so advised earlier about the physio, he would have been included on their delegation list.
The technical staff also suggested to the agent that the support staff comprised of competent physiotherapists so there was no need at this stage for Antonio's personal physio, given that the player had received clearance to enter the US but no application had yet been made for the physio.
The source further added that when the JFF applies for these travel exemptions through the US Soccer Federation, it takes just under three days, so he believes that there was a high probability that the personal physio would not have been granted clearance in time for Thursday's game.
It is understandable why the player would wish to have his personal physiotherapist, as was the case for the game against Panama in Kingston last month, because he knows his body well.
For this year alone Antonio has had five injury setbacks described as muscle (for which he missed 23 days and three games), knock (nine days and two games), strain (26 days and five games), hamstring (35 days and three games) and another hamstring injury when he missed four days, but no games.
Meanwhile, Cavalier Football Club defender Jamoi Topey has also been drafted into the squad to replace Pinnock. He joins club teammate, goalkeeper Jeadine White who received a late call-up to replace Dennis Taylor.
White and Je-Vaughn Watson were the two players who travelled with the other members of the local delegation on Monday from Jamaica to Houston. From there the group travelled by bus for three hours to Austin.
Up to press time and just ahead of the team's first training session at Austin Bowl, two players, Topey and Junior Flemmings, had yet to join the group, which underwent a PCR test yesterday morning.
Thursday's game is slated for the Q2 Stadium here at 6:30 pm. The Boyz will then return home for Sunday's fixture against Canada inside the National Stadium, before completing this second round of games against Honduras in San Pedro Sula next week Wednesday.
Jamaica are currently at the foot of the eight-team standing on one point behind leader Mexico on seven. They are followed by Canada, US and Panama on five points, with Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador on two points.
Jamaica lost 1-2 away to Mexico and followed by a 0-3 humiliation to Panama at home before earning a 1-1 result away to Costa Rica in the first set of qualifiers last month. Each team will play 14 games, seven at home and seven away.
The top three finishers earn direct berths to Qatar next year, while the four-placed team enters an Inter-Continental play-off for a last chance at Qatar.
Squad – Andre Blake, Dillon Barnes, Jeadine White, Javon East, Bobby Reid, Andre Gray, Kemar Roofe, Alvas Powell, Jamal Lowe, Oniel Fisher, Damion Lowe, Tyreek MaGee, Javain Brown, Devon Williams, Je-vaughn Watson, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Shamar Nicholson, Junior Flemmings