Sat | Dec 4, 2021

‘Very important’ that Bailey recovers for WCQ – Whitmore

Published:Sunday | September 19, 2021 | 4:35 PMAudley Boyd - Sunday Gleaner Writer
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JAMAICA’S head coach for its senior men’s football team, Theodore Whitmore, is hoping winger Leon Bailey recovers fully and in time for their upcoming matches in Concacaf World Cup qualifying (WCQ).

Bailey, who represents Aston Villa in the English Premier League, walked off the field 21 minutes after entering as a 61st-minute sub against Everton, in a match where the Jamaican scored and had a huge impact in their 3-0 home victory at Villa Park yesterday.

Bailey left the field at the 82nd minute after sprinting to a pass, before playing the ball outside and indicating to his bench that he would not be continuing the match.

“Yes, it’s a concern because we’re looking forward to have him for these games,” said Whitmore.

“It’s always a concern whenever one of our players get injured,” he continued, noting that he will continue monitoring the situation as he has been, including for Jamaica’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

“We’re just putting together the squad for the games coming up and he has been named in the team,” Whitmore revealed.

Bailey, who represented Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga before transferring to Aston Villa this season, was not part of the Jamaica team in its first three Concacaf World Cup games earlier this month, owing to injury.

Jamaica drew one match 1-1 away at Costa Rica, but lost twice – 1-2 at Mexico after conceding an 89th minute goal and 0-3 at home against Panama. They now sit bottom of the eight-team Final Round qualification from which the top three will automatically claim berth at the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals. The fourth-place Concacaf team will also get a chance at qualifying through the play-off route.

The Reggae Boyz next play on October 7 in the United States, host Canada on the 10th, before travelling to Honduras for an encounter on the 13th.

INTEGRAL PLAYER

With Mexico leading on seven points and three countries (Canada, United States, Panama) tied next on five points, Whitmore said they need their very best players available.

“It’s very important that Bailey recovers. You need all your players and Leon is an integral part of the team, so we always want him,” said Whitmore.

Bailey ‘s goal gave his team an unassailable 3-0 lead at the 75th minute. That goal was scored six minutes after his corner kick was inadvertently turned into the Everton goal by their own player, Lucas Digne, at the 69th minute. And five minutes after Bailey had taken the field, at the 66th, Matthew Cash gave Aston Villa the lead.

The Reggae Boy, in an interview carried live on Rush channel minutes after the game, said he believed the injury emanated “from the shot” he scored.

“I think I hit it too hard, so I started feeling a little stiff in my quad. But I don’t think it should be anything serious. So, instead of risking it, I decided to come out, you now, because we have a lot of games coming up,” said Bailey.

Commenting on the player’s injury, also in the Rush channel interview, Aston Villa coach Dean Smith said: “We’re hoping it’s just a tight thigh, that’s what he said to the doctor so we didn’t need to risk him at that time.”

Asked if it will be ‘short-term’, Smith added: “That’s what we’re hopeful of, we hope we just caught it in time and it’s just a tight quad.”

audley.boyd@gleanerjm.com