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Marksman Shelton to take aim at Costa Rica

Published:Sunday | September 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Jamaican striker Luton Shelton is eagerly awaiting today's friendly international inside the National Stadium and has set his sights on adding to his 28 Reggae Boyz goals, as the Costa Ricans come to town, aiming to spoil what is intended to be Jamaica's 'coming-out' party for several high-profile assignments, such as next year's start of the World Cup 2014 qualification campaign.

Shelton has been in decent form for his Norwegian outfit Valerenga and, despite picking up a hamstring injury in his last outing, is hoping to play a leading role in a Jamaican win in today's contest.

The tricky Shelton is one of the country's most prolific strikers these days, having played 50 games so far for the Boyz; a return that is placed further into perspective when the record of Jamaica's other big man, Ricardo Fuller, is taken into account. Fuller has so far scored 11 goals for Jamaica in 60 appearances. It should be noted that Marlon King has scored 10 goals in his 18 appearances for the team.

"After the last game I played with my club, I got a cramp in my hamstring and I was still feeling it a little bit, but I think it's cooling off and it should be good for the game," Shelton noted, after the team's penultimate training session at the venue on Friday.

"I'm very excited about the game. Every time I come to play for my country I always look forward to going out there and putting in 100 per cent, so I'm happy to get called back to the team and I hope to get on the scoresheet. My expectation all the time is to go out there and do well and to win."

Shelton, who helped Jamaica to two Caribbean Cup titles in 2005 and 2008, has been picking up good reviews for his performances in Europe after good showings with Valerenga and Danish club Aalborg, a team he played for on loan last year before returning to Norway.

He is, however, fully focused on the Reggae Boyz as they get ready to kick their 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup, 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup qualification preparation into high gear. The team will also play Peru in a second friendly international on Tuesday at the Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"Recently, I have had to be concentrating on my work with the club because we have been doing very well in the league and are on course to win the league this season, but I'm here now and am fully focused on the national team. I hope that we'll be able to win these two games so that we can improve our rankings and so on," Shelton stated.

Having graduated through successive national teams since the Under-17 level and getting his first senior team call-up at the age of 18 some six years ago, Shelton, 24, is now considered to be a senior member and a very important element of the programme.

Good experience

With a number of younger players knocking on the door, Shelton believes that augurs well for the future of the programme and is aiding the development of these younger players, such as the St George's College pair of Oneil Fisher and Devon Williams, among others.

"We have a lot of young players here and I've been in the team for about six years now so, actually, I have been here from I was 18 years old and that was a good experience for me," said Shelton. "A lot of people and older players motivated me to try and reach higher heights and I'm trying to do the same for these younger players.

"They are good players with good ability and that's obvious, because if they didn't have talent they wouldn't be here, and they are really doing well and showinga lot in training, so I believe that things look good for the future as well," added the former Harbour View striker.