Almost time! - Bailey close to Reggae Boyz debut
Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey is one step closer to making his debut for Jamaica after what was described as a positive meeting between the player's father and manager, Craig Butler, and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) at the CONCACAF office in New Kingston yesterday.
JFF President Michael Ricketts is not sure if the in-form Bundesliga attacker will be available for Jamaica's next assignment - a friendly international against South Korea on January 30 - due to the fact this falls on a non-FIFA-sanctioned date, meaning it's unlikely that his club will release him. Ricketts, however, confirmed that the 20-year-old will be invited to represent his country of birth for that fixture and also during the March 19-25 FIFA international window.
After two failed meetings between the parties, Ricketts, while pointing to several concessions during the discourse, noted that he was pleased with the outcome of yesterday's nearly two-hour-long meeting, which also involved JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint; Director Peter Reid; and Rudolph Speid, a member of the Technical and Development Committee.
"The truth is I was pleasantly surprised that we had such a cordial meeting," said Ricketts. "Mr Butler has decided to work very closely with the JFF and the JFF with Mr Butler. His (Butler) position has changed drastically, and we will now start having a proper relation.
"So the relationship is a lot better, and 'Chippy' (Bailey) will be invited. I am not sure if he will be available for this (South Korea) game. But for the next game, which will be on a FIFA date, he will be part of the set-up. So it's very close, and we believe we will have him for the next game.
"The [South] Korea game will be difficult, but still we are going to send the invitation, but we are hoping, and we believe we will have him on the next FIFA date," Ricketts added.
Although Butler wasn't as forthcoming, he, too, admitted that the issue of Bailey playing for Jamaica could be sorted out by the end of this month.
"I have to go to Europe for some transfer meetings, so I guess it (next meeting) will be after the transfer window. But it was a very amicable meeting and we are looking for a positive outcome for everybody," said Butler.
MORE INFLUENTIAL JFF ROLE
Meanwhile, Ricketts also revealed that Butler was offered a more influential role with the federation and that there were a number of other issues that needed ironing out.
"Yes, [he will be offered a more influential role in the JFF]. I can definitely say yes. So things are looking up, and at the end of the meeting, I must say things really worked out in favour of both parties. There are some things I can't divulge as yet, but we are seeing eye to eye," Ricketts noted.
"So a number of issues that were really clouding the relationship with Butler have been cleared up. Some we will bring to the board to be discussed, but we are absolutely sure we will have a better relationship with Mr Butler, Phoenix [Academy], and the young players under his supervision," he added.