No invitation for Leon Bailey
General secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, says exciting young Jamaican winger Leon Bailey will not be invited to join the Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League fixture versus El Salvador on March 23 and an international friendly game against Costa Rica on March 26.
Wint said they did not want any “disruptions” in the camp when they face off against El Salvador in the crucial Nations League clash.
The Reggae Boyz are one of six teams with the maximum nine points from three games in the Nations League group, while El Salvador have six points after their three matches. Wint stated that head coach Theodore Whitmore wants the squad to be highly focused for this encounter and that he believes that the uncertainty surrounding Bailey’s situation with the national team makes him a distraction to the squad.
“We are not looking to invite him. The coach (Whitmore) has named a squad already, and persons have been contacted,” Wint said.
“The situation is that we are at a critical juncture with the Nations League, and we do not want any sort of disruptions at this time because we have to perform well in this game, so he (Bailey) was not considered by the coaching staff for either the Nations League or the practice game. The same squad will be used for both games,” Wint pointed out.
However, according to Wint, the coaching staff has not ruled out inviting the 21 year-old in the near future as Whitmore is very keen to work with the young attacker.
“Possibly, he (Whitmore) will consider him in the near future because we have other games coming up for the Gold Cup, and it is always the plan to invite Mr Bailey. But he has to indicate that he is ready for that invitation. The moment he shows that he is interested in having his name in the squad, he will be called,” Wint said.
The Jamaica-born Bayer Leverkusen winger accepted an invitation for the CONCACAF Nations League game against Bonaire last October but had a last-minute change of heart.
Bailey told The Gleaner in October that he changed his mind after a meeting with the federation. According to him, the JFF went back on their word after previously agreeing to terms for him to play.
The sticking point concerned Bailey’s brother, Kyle Butler. The federation wanted to put the latter on trial, but Bailey believes that a professional player such as Butler should not have to go through the scrutiny of a trial when others playing at a lower level are not required to do so.
Bailey started the 2018-19 Bundesliga season below his best but has shown vast improvement in recent weeks, scoring twice in his club’s last five matches. On February 2, he scored a spectacular long-range free kick against league leaders Bayern Munich in a 3-1 home win for Bayer Leverkusen.