Local Boyz will get their chance - Whitmore
Coach of Jamaica national men's senior team Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore says local based players will be given sufficient opportunities in upcoming friendly internationals against the USA and Honduras next month.
Whitmore has been preparing a squad of locals for games against the Americans on February 3 at the Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, starting at 7:30 p.m. (local time) and Honduras on February 16, which will also be played in the USA.
Following the training camp, a 20-man team will be selected this weekend ahead of their scheduled departure on February 1.
However, with a number of professional players from Major League Soccer expected to be added to the squad for the games, Whitmore made it clear that players from the local leagues will get their chance to make an impression.
"We want to strike a balance between the local players here and the players in the MLS who are in off-season," Whitmore told The Gleaner yesterday during a training session at Stadium East.
"Every game that the national team plays is important, but we don't want to overemphasise, we want the players to go out there and get the experience, especially the local players, as we always hear the cry that locals are not getting enough chances to represent the country," Whitmore added.
"We want to make the local players going forward the head cornerstone of the programme, something similar to when we qualified for the 1998 World Cup final in France. We have some young players here, and the aim is to expose them to what international football is about," the coach informed.
The training squad includes two schoolboy players in Jourdaine Fletcher from Cornwall College and Fabian Grant of Kingston College.
"What we don't want to do is put these schoolboys under pressure to perform; we just want to nurture them and try as much as possible to integrate them into the senior programme. There is no doubt that they have the quality, but at the end of the day we have to look out for their welfare. They are in school so we have worked out a plan for Fletcher as he is from the west, so we had to sort out the best way for him to continue education, while in the programme," Whitmore also added.
Meanwhile, Fletcher who was the top goal scorer for daCosta Cup champions Cornwall College is confident that he can be included in the team.
"It is a great feeling being among senior players. I will just try to keep the focus. I know that it is a faster pace but I'm used to that as I played three years for Falkland in the Western League and now at Montego Bay United in the Red Stripe Premier League," Fletcher said.
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