As this country’s senior men’s team continues its build up towards Friday’s International Friendly against Mexico in Salt Lake City, head coach Stephen Hart is making it clear that he will not tolerate any form of disregard for the country’s football program by players or clubs.
Hart was speaking on Wednesday following a training session in Utah, telling both the international and local media that there has to be compromise between the involved parties especially on the verge of a World Cup qualifying campaign.
He was referring to the latest incident which saw English-born defender Gavin Hoyte being forced to withdraw from the squad for Friday’s game because of pressure from his English club Barnet FC. Up to Friday Hoyte was in contact with the T&T team manager William Wallace and all seemed set for his travel until he didn’t show up for his flight out of London along with fellow English-based pro Andre Boucaud.
Hoyte later admitted that the club had asked him to miss the encounter. But there was no communication from the club and Wallace was not pleased that the decision was only taken at such a late stage.
“I was not pleased with how his club handled it. Basically they bullied the player. They told him he would be available and they would release him and then just hours before he is supposed to get on the plane they refuse to let him go and then you place the player in a situation where he is in a scrap with the club and the manager.
I think that was very unprofessional of him and quite frankly they showed disrespect to the Trinidad and Tobago international program because I am sure if it was England who called him, or Ireland or Wales, they would let him go,” Hart told TTFA Media.
“It is certainly a situation that I am not going to look upon lightly with other players as well if it comes up. I will enter discussions with Gavin because he has to also put his foot down with the club.
“They didn’t say yes from the beginning because then they knew we could refer to the FIFA statutes.
“Quite clearly going into World Cup is extremely important players are on top of their game and playing regularly for their clubs and of course we want to have proper relationships with the involved parties.
“There will be no situation like this come World Cup qualifying because we will have to know from the onset whether the player is coming or not and take action accordingly depending on the matter at hand,” Hart stated.
Hoyte is a former Arsenal and England youth international player. His brother Justin is also a member of the T&T national team.
Commenting on the training camp so far, Hart said :“I’m glad we got these days in because the altitude takes a bit of getting used to for the players. They aren’t struggling but they have to adapt.
He touched on the showing by some of the players coming into the squad who were not part of the Gold Cup such as Trevin Caesar, Neveal Hackshaw and Marcus Joseph.
“They have done well. (Trevin) Caesar is coming in with a renewed energy and passion. I like how he has trained. (Neveal) Hackshaw has always been a player that seems to be all business. For a young man he has a very good professional attitude and I like that. A lot of players when they look around at the squad, they realize there are new faces and there are positions to play for and fight for and this is essential for our team to move forward,” Hart added.
The team trained twice on Wednesday and will have one evening session on Thursday at the Rio Tinto Stadium which is sold out for Friday’s match.