Kwesi Mugisa, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Captain Horace Burrell, remains optimistic, but cautious, in regard to the injury sustained to key Reggae Boy midfielder Rodolph Austin on the weekend.
However, the prognosis seemed a lot better for both the JFF and the player's English Championship division club Leeds United yesterday.
Initially, it was reported that Austin had sustained a double leg break, but a fresh diagnosis has revealed that the player suffered a fractured bone at the front of his ankle.
"Well, that would be great, but coach (Theodore) Whitmore and I will be going to see him tomorrow (today) so we will get an official update on what his progress is then," Burrell told The Gleaner from Birmingham, England, yesterday.
Austin, who has been a key midfielder for Leeds since joining the club in July, sustained the injury after a seemingly innocuous collision with a Watford defender early in the second half of the match between the teams on Saturday.
Leeds' manager Neil Warnock had feared the worst as the player left the field strapped to a stretcher, but yesterday he revised his stance.
"It's better news than we first thought," Warnock told the Leeds United website (http://www.leedsunited.com).
"The swelling made it difficult for us to get a full diagnosis until Monday evening. We wish him well in his recovery and, hopefully, he will be back with us sooner rather than later."
Burrell, along with Whitmore and assistant coach Alfredo Montesso, is currently in the midst of a recruitment programme that aims to bolster the ranks of the national team with England-based talent, ahead of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which gets under way in February.
Initial fears were that Austin would have been ruled out for the rest of the season, which would certainly have seen him miss the majority of the qualifiers, but a revised projection could see the tough-tackling midfielder miss around two months of action, that is if there are no setbacks to his recovery.
"We remain hopeful that the injury will not keep him out of any of the qualifiers, but we will not say too much on it now," Burrell said.
However, even in the best-case scenario, it seems unlikely that Austin will be ready for the national team's opening fixture, an expected thorny trip to Mexico's Azteca Stadium.
Burrell, in the meantime, confirmed that the process was going "very, very well" but would not divulge specifics in regard to players already on board, missed targets, or players likely to join the team's crusade to Brazil.