TT football team coach Dennis Lawrence has called up the uncapped overseas-born trio of Ryan Telfer, Daniel Carr and Andre ‘Dre’ Fortune to his squad for a Concacaf Nations League home-and-away tie against Martinique.
The first leg will take on Friday at the Pierre Aliker Stadium, Fort de France, Martinique from 6 pm (TT time), with the return leg scheduled for next Monday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo from 9 pm.
During an interview,at Piarco International yesterday, before the technical staff and a few players left for a camp in St Lucia, Lawrence acknowledged that the team was only finalised yesterday morning “to give every opportunity to ensure we got the documentation for the likes of Ryan and Daniel.”
The 25-year-old Telfer is a winger ,who is currently on loan from Major League Soccer (MLS) team Toronto FC to Canadian Premier League team York9.
His family moved from Ontario, Canada to Chaguanas when he was less than a year old. He was a student of Fatima College before he returned to Canada, at age 17, to pursue civil engineering at York University.
Another 25-year-old, Carr, is an English-born striker who plays for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus.
“Carr is another one that I’ve been in contact with,” Lawrence said. “It was a longer process in terms of having to get the documentation because his dad is a Trinidadian who lives in the UK. Daniel always wanted to do it, but we (had) to make sure that we go through the right process. We (had) to get the clearance from the English Football Association.”
Lawrence added, “Since Friday and (yesterday) we managed to get all the documentation, so they are now part of the group. They received their passports (yesterday) and they are travelling with the group to St Lucia in preparation for the game.”
Fortune is the only member of the trio with TT experience, having represented the national Under-17 and Under-20 teams.
“(I was) keeping my eyes on him,” said Lawrence about the midfielder. “He’s been doing relatively well for North Carolina in the USL (United Soccer League). I thought Andre deserves a selection in the squad so we introduced him to the group.” The 23-year-old, the son of a TT father (also named Andre) was born in North Carolina, United States.
Striker Marcus Joseph (visa issues) and central defender Sheldon Bateau (club commitments), who were not part of the Concacaf Gold Cup squad, have been recalled by Lawrence.
“We’ve got some experience, the likes of (Kevin) Molino, Joevin (Jones), Sheldon Bateau and Daneil Cyrus, with some youth,” said the TT coach. “The idea is to gel as quickly as possible to prepare for the game on (Friday).”
Team captain Khaleem Hyland will miss the matches due to a hamstring injury, while Cordell Cato, Neveal Hackshaw and Greg Ranjitsingh, who were involved with the TT squad at the Gold Cup, are out due to passport issues.
After the Gold Cup, Lawrence bemoaned the lack of competitive club football for the local-based players.
Now, with the Ascension Invitational Tournament taking place, Lawrence said, “I think the players would be, more or less, comfortable in their physical conditioning and their mental state, and that should help them going into their games.”
Asked how optimistic he was about TT’s prospects against Martinique, Lawrence replied, “The most important thing is to get a performance because performance normally gives you a result.
“If we can try and ensure the team remains compact as a unit, playing away from home, which by now we’re used to, I think the boys would be comfortable in that environment. It’s a very tough challenge for us because the first game is very important in any tournament.”
Lawrence denied any notion that he was under pressure to select new players after the ill-fated Gold Cup campaign, which saw TT beaten 2-0 to Panama, 6-0 to hosts United States and draw 1-1 with Guyana.
“The only pressure that I’m under is the pressure that I put myself under,” he said. “Football is the only thing that I know. If you ask me to build a house, then I’m under pressure.
“Having these boys integrated in the squad, the idea is they’ll come in with a different sort of enthusiasm, a different belief and a different fight. If we didn’t learn anything from the recent results, then we weren’t doing any good. I’m hoping they bring some fresh passion to TT and hopefully that can transform to results.”
Asked how he feels to see TT play an international match at home, for the first time since an April 2018 friendly at home to Panama, Lawrence responded, “The most important thing is for us to concentrate on the game away first and then, when we get home, the guys would be eager because they haven’t done it for a while, playing in front of the TT public. A lot of the guys on the squad were part of the Gold Cup, so they’ll be hurting like everyone else, they’ll want to put that right.”
Players (clubs in brackets) –
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC); Marvin Phillip (FC Santa Rosa); Glenroy Samuel (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers).
Defenders: Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen, Belgium); Daneil Cyrus (Mohun Bagan, India); Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa FC, Costa Rica); Alvin Jones (OKC Energy FC, US); Keston Julien (AS Trencin, Slovakia); Carlyle Mitchell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers); Ross Russell jnr (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers).
Midfielders: Andre Fortune (North Carolina FC, US); Judah Garcia (Point Fortin Civic); Nathaniel Garcia (Point Fortin Civic); Levi Garcia (Beitar Jerusalem FC, Israel); Kevan George (Charlotte Independence, US); Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders, US); Kevin Molino (Minnesota FC, US); Leston Paul (Memphis 901 FC, US); Ryan Telfer (York9 FC, Canada); Jomal Williams (Isidro Metapan, El Salvador).
Strikers: Daniel Carr (Apollon Limassol, Cyprus); Marcus Joseph (Gokulam Kerala FC, India); Jameel Perry (Police).
Technical Staff – Dennis Lawrence (coach); Stuart Charles-Fevrier, Stern John (assistant coaches); Ross Russell (goalkeeper coach); Richard Piper (manager); Akash Dhanai (doctor), MacAllister Estrada (medic); Dexter Thomas (trainer); Sion Cain (massage therapist); James Coneboy (match analyst); Michael Williams (equipment manager); Wayne Cunningham (logistics manager); Shaun Fuentes (media officer).