Sat | Apr 21, 2018

Foster's Fairplay | New twist to Bailey saga

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster
Leon Bailey checks his fitness watch during a training session at the Waterhouse Stadium on Saturday, December 23,2017.

When will the saga end as to whose national kit the increasingly popular, 20-year-old Jamaican football talent Leon Bailey will eventually wear? While the stand-off between this season's Bundesliga sensation and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) continues to rage, there is an actively developing situation, as revealed in the British media, that similar interest in his signature could be at play elsewhere.

This new twist is by no means in reference to the top Premier League clubs - Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, et al - who are seeking to be considered when his decision-maker and more, Craig Butler, decides to have him make that transfer move. In the interim, the intrigue is interesting.

Before Foster's Fairplay gets into that, sincere apologies are in order to Butler for inadvertently attributing last week a statement to him, which was incorrect. Any thought that the entire Phoenix talent could be brought into the national squad did not come from him, and for saying that, this columnist apologises for any discomfort caused, which was not intentional.

On the Bailey matter, it has been reported by the Mirror on Sunday, that the England team manager, Gareth Southgate "could call Bailey up if the Bayer Leverkusen winger switches allegiance from Jamaica". The England boss actually sent some scouts to watch him in last weekend's game against Hamburg, in which Bailey scored his 11th goal of the season in a 2-1 victory, and this in 23 appearances. Southgate is said to be anxious to include the Kingston-born ball artist in one of two teams to take part in friendly games which will be the final opportunity for his players to be consider-ed for the World Cup in July.

It must be remembered that the player has only represented his country at the Under-23 level, which does not prevent him from exchanging colours and donning a senior cap elsewhere. Also mentioned is that he qualifies for the Mother Country by virtue of two of his grandparents holding a British Passport.

As if all that is not enough for a temptation to accept the England call, Bailey enjoys a close friendship with fellow Jamaican and England left flank player Raheem Sterling who, as the reports go, "is believed to have sold him the idea of playing for England".

In terms of residence, Bailey is also eligible to represent Belgium and Malta. Of all these options, the latest coming from England could be the most enticing for the young player, in that it will arguably position him closer to a World Cup podium finish.

The Bailey group has decisions to make, and in this columnist's opinion, the reported interest by England does two things. Matters continue to hang in the balance with Jamaica, as the final word seems still somewhat in the distance. Thus, hope for a conclusion in this nation's favour now appears somewhat far-fetched.

On the other hand, the lobby that suggests an England choice is expected to take on more legs as time elapses.

In the scenario as explained, anyone harbouring the thought of a Bailey nod towards Jamaica,had better think again.

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