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Merry Widow encore on Sunday

Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 9:00 AMNodley Wright
Joel Grant

What some may view as a negative for the Reggae Boyz, the absence of midfielder Joel 'Jobi' McAnuff and winger Garath McCleary, will be taken as a positive by attacker Joel Grant.

The 28-year-old, who made his senior team debut for Jamaica in 2014 - eight years after representing the country at the Under-20 level - sees the absence of his teammates as an opportunity to cement a starting place.

This, he believes, will happen if he puts on a commanding display for Jamaica in the country's World Cup qualifier against Nicaragua as the country begins its 2018 World Cup campaign at the National Stadium tomorrow evening at 8 p.m.

"Representing Jamaica is something that I take great pride and joy in, and this situation presents me with an opportunity to cement my place in the national team," said the player who recently signed a two-year contract with English League Two club Exeter City.

Grant, a skilful player equally adept at playing the one-two or dribbling by a challenger, has not had the best time as he picked up a second injury in December after helping Jamaica to win the Caribbean Cup in Montego Bay and is hoping that this will mark a positive turn.

"Yeah, I had two injuries. Firstly, I had a tendonitis problem in my foot, which ruled me out for the first month and a half of the season, and then shortly after the Caribbean Cup, I tore ligaments in my knee that ruled me out until February. It was not the smoothest season for me," said the player who admitted getting hooked on playing for Jamaica after witnessing a Reggae Boyz match as an 11-year-old at the National Stadium with his mother and stepfather.

With a new contract in the bag, Grant said he can concentrate on getting back to his best.

"My contract with Exeter is for two years, and it is a great feeling to have finally sorted it. I missed a large part of last season, and being away for much of the summer (at the Copa AmÈrica and the Gold Cup) made things a little bit more difficult than I expected. A few things broke down for those reasons, so I am happy to have sorted it now," explained the player, who also represented the country at the under-23 level.

Grant added that he intends to put on a show for the local fans, especially after the team has done enough to secure the victory.