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Injury concerns for Austin, Phillips - Reggae Boyz pair still likely to play against USA

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM

 Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sports


Rodolph Austin and Demar Phillips showed signs of pain, but Jamaica's head coach, Winfried Schäfer, says both players will be ready for tomorrow's do-or-die CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) football match against the United States at Sporting Park here tomorrow, beginning at 5:36 p.m.

"I saw a small problem with Demar, but he can play; and Austin, but he can play," said Schäfer after training yesterday evening at County Community College.

Austin had trained with the Jamaica team since arriving here on Monday night, but sat out yesterday's game session.

Phillips, who resumed playing with his Norwegian club, Aalesunds FK, recently, had also been training and went through the full session at full throttle yesterday. However, towards the end of the session, he showed some signs of discomfort, before he continued playing.

One other player sat out the game training - goalkeeper Richard McCallum. The Waterhouse custodian, who kept the full 90 minutes in Jamaica's last WCQ, against Costa Rica last month, went to the sidelines after undergoing the full exercise and goalkeeper workout session, with Schäfer also noting that he may change his system of play.

"Maybe we change our system," he said. The United States play not the Caribbean style or South American style, more the European system - and I think we may have to change."

There was some amount of rotation in the spirited and competitive Reggae Boyz training session, a near full-field game that saw striker Ryan Johnson moving back into the reckoning, and others outside the recent starting team such as Harbour View full back Kemar Lawrence and Daniel Gordon moving into the reckoning.

Schäfer, a German, stated greater knowledge of German-based Gordon, who was a revelation at central midfield as the coach explored options with Austin looking on.

Under the microscope

Lawrence is one of two left-sided players who were also placed under the microscope, with concerns about Phillips.

"Today and tomorrow we make tactical training on the table and the field," said the coach, who explained that the team is drawing on all its resources to gain greater knowledge of their US opponents, as they seek to win the crucial encounter.

After eight matches, the Jamaican team is yet to win, and remain bottom of the six-team standings with four points. However, with three teams advancing automatically and a fourth getting a half-chance through a play-off against Oceania champions New Zealand, they are not out of the running.

Leaders United States (16 points) and Costa Rica (15) have already qualified for Brazil 2014, with Honduras (11) third, followed by Panama and Mexico tied on eight points.

To advance, Jamaica must win their two matches and move to 10 points, then hope other factors combine to keep Panama and Mexico with a lesser tally.