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Winchester replaces Cummings for upcoming qualifier.
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‘Warriors’ start preparations for Copa qualifier.

Trinidad and Tobago Head Coach Stephen Hart has named Shahdon Winchester as the replacement for attacking midfielder Keron Cummings who has been ruled out of the Copa America Centenario qualifier versus Haiti after receiving a gun shot wound to the leg in the early hours of Sunday morning outside of his home in Petit Valley.

Winchester, of DirecTV W Connection, will join the team’s live-in training camp on Monday and will participate in the training sessions scheduled for the Manny Ramjohn Stadium from 8:30am and then at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 6pm.

Hart conducted his first session of the camp on Sunday evening at the Port of Spain venue ahead of the January 8th match in Panama City which will see the winner advance to the historic Copa America Centenario in the United States.

Few players were missing on Sunday with the likes of Khaleem Hyland, Kevan George, Andre Boucaud, Justin Hoyte and Jonathan Glenn scheduled to enter camp this week and Hart is expected to have his full compliment of 23 players by January 2nd. Central FC forward Willis Plaza has also been ruled out due to a shoulder injury and Rundell Winchester has been called up as his replacement.

Hart said he was keen to commence training but was of course saddened by the news that hit the team camp earlier in the day concerning Cummings.

“This is the part that I enjoy and I think we all enjoy, having the players here and on the field and back in training. The opening session is just to get everybody in the right frame of mind and in the right spirit,” Hart said following the session on Sunday evening.

On the matter of Cummings, he said: “I think if there is a silver lining in a shooting is that he (Cummings) is alive. Hopefully he is in good hands. We wish him all the best to get back healthy, and then we can think about his football again. All the players and the staff are in full support. We’ll see him and give him our support. I think we have to rally around that and the game now has an extra meaning now because he was a big part of us.”

Commenting on the squad, Hart stated: “It’s one game and it’s one mission – to win. The main thing now is to get players sharp. Some of them have been off for a little while, while others have been playing. The main thing is to get them in the right frame of mind and the mental attitude has to be right.

“We have to know that we are going into a game that will quite essentially is going to be a dog fight but it is one to get into a very prestigious tournament and something where you can’t put a price on the experience you will get in playing in a tournament like that. But first things first – one game.

He also spoke on the inclusion of Ataulla Guerra and Jomal Williams.

“I think the season they are having, it gives them an opportunity to come into the squad. I have shown confidence in picking them and now it’s for them to fight their way into the starting line up, to train properly and show me that they cannot be left out unless it is for tactical reasons.”

Hart said the team will focus on the business of playing football following the recent episode regarding outstanding wages.

“It is unfortunate what happened. To be fair, the new regime came in and they were not aware of the entire situation and it is unfortunate. It is very understandable in terms of the players, and you have to support that but that’s behind us now and hopefully mentally behind us because it was extremely taxing mentally. I know for me, I was a little bit put back because this is a very important outing for us.

Hart further said that he was satisfied that there would be ongoing progress.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down with the President as yet but we have been talking every day on the phone and he has assured me that all things are moving in the right track. I have to trust him on that. That’s his department and I will try and take care of things on the field,” Hart stated.

Following the session, TTFA President David John- Williams, who was also at practice, paid a visit to Cummings at the Port of Spain General Hospital and Team Doctor Terance Babwah has also been monitoring the player’s progress. The FA will continue to keep abreast of his progress and will make the efforts to ensure the player receives the necessary support during his recovery period. The members of the team also kept their wounded teammate in prayer at the start of Sunday’s training session.

Cummings who made his senior international debut in 2010, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday morning.

VIDEO: - Day One of Training Camp as T&T Prepares for Copa Qualifier

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Winchesters replace Cummings and Plaza.
By Walter Alibey (Guardian).


T&T coach Stephen Hart has summoned Shahdon Winchester as the replacement for attacking midfielder Keron Cummings who has been ruled out of the Copa America Centenario qualifier versus Haiti after being shot in the right leg in the wee hours of Sunday morning outside his Petit Valley home.

Winchester of Princes Town and who plays his trade with DirecTV W Connection, joined the team’s live-in training camp yesterday and was expected to work out with the team at 8.30 am at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium and later at 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Hart conducted his first session on Sunday evening at the Port-of-Spain venue, mere hours after Cummings was ambushed and shot for reasons that still continue to confuse coach Hart and his teammates. 

Cummings was expected to report for training yesterday as the team looks forward to the all important encounter against Haiti on January 8 in Panama City, Panama with the winner advancing to the Copa America tournament which is being held for the first time in the United States. Sunday’s turn-out was minus just a few players, with the likes of Khaleem Hyland, Kevan George, Andre Boucaud, Justin Hoyte and Jonathan Glenn scheduled to enter camp this week. He is expected to have his full complement of 23 players by January 2. 

Meanwhile, Central FC striker Willis Plaza has also been ruled out due to a shoulder injury and Tobagonian Rundell Winchester has been called up as his replacement. The Winchesters are not related. 

Hart said he was keen to commence training but was saddened by the news that hit the team camp earlier in the day concerning Cummings. “This is the part that I enjoy and I think we all enjoy, having the players here and on the field and back in training. The opening session is just to get everybody in the right frame of mind and in the right spirit,” Hart said following the session on Sunday. 

On the matter of Cummings, he said: “I think if there is a silver lining in a shooting is that he (Cummings) is alive. Hopefully he is in good hands. We wish him all the best to get back healthy, and then we can think about his football again. All the players and the staff are in full support. We’ll see him and give him our support. I think we have to rally around that and the game now has an extra meaning now because he was a big part of us.”

Concerning the squad, Hart said “It’s one game and it’s one mission to win. The main thing now is to get players sharp. Some of them have been off for a little while and others have been playing. The main thing is to get them in the right frame of mind and the mental attitude has to be right. We have to know that we are going into a game that is going to be a dog fight, but it is one thing to get into a prestigious tournament but something where you can’t put a price on the experience the players will get in playing in a tournament like that.” 

Hart also welcomed the inclusion of Ataullah Guerra and Jomal Williams in the squad. “I think the season they are having, gives them an opportunity to come into the squad. I have shown confidence in picking them and now it’s for them to fight their way into the starting lineup, to train properly and show me that they cannot be left out unless it is for tactical reasons,” Hart explained.

Hart said the team would  focus on the business of playing football following the recent episode regarding outstanding wages. “It is unfortunate what happened. To be fair, the new regime came in and they were not aware of the entire situation and it is unfortunate. It is very understandable in terms of the players and you have to support that but that’s behind us now and hopefully mentally behind us also because it was extremely taxing mentally.” said Hart. 

After the session, TTFA President David John-Williams, who was also at practice, paid a visit to Cummings at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and Team Doctor Terence Babwah has also been monitoring the player’s progress. The FA will continue to keep abreast of his progress and will make the efforts to ensure the player receives the necessary support during his recovery period. The members of the team also kept their wounded teammate in prayer at the start of Sunday’s training session.

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Hart reaches for Winchesters; dedicates Copa play off to hospitalised Cummings
wired868.


Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart has summoned DIRECTV W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester and Portland Timbers II attacker Rundell Winchester to his 23-man squad to face Haiti in the 2016 Copa America Centenario play off on January 8 in Panama City.

The two Winchesters replace injured North East Stars playmaker Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings and Central FC striker Willis Plaza.

Cummings was shot outside his Diego Martin home before dawn on Sunday morning and suffered a broken thigh bone while Plaza was ruled out with a shoulder injury he picked up in Central’s 4-0 pro League win over Morvant Caledonia United on December 19.

Cummings was scheduled to undergo an operation this morning at the Port of Spain General Hospital.

“I think if there is a silver lining in a shooting is that (Cummings) is alive,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “Hopefully he is in good hands. We wish him all the best to get back healthy, and then we can think about his football again.

“All the players and the staff are in full support. We’ll see him and give him our support.

“I think we have to rally around that and the game now has an extra meaning because he was a big part of us.”

The absence of Cummings and Plaza as well as midfielders Kevin Molino and Hughtun Hector, who are both recovering from broken legs, and the unavailability of team captain Kenwyne Jones, offers a rare opportunity for the unrelated Winchesters.

In 30 outings as coach, Hart used Shahdon on just three occasions while Rundell has just four caps for the current “Soca Warriors” coach.

At present, Hart has just 18 players in camp as striker Jonathan Glenn, defender Justin Hoyte and midfielders Khaleem Hyland, Kevan George and Andre Boucaud are still unavailable. All five Warriors are expected to join their colleagues by January 2.

Hart anticipates that the Haiti showdown will be a “dog fight” for the chance to compete against the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and South America champions, Chile.

“It’s one game and it’s one mission: to win,” said Hart. “The main thing now is to get players sharp. Some of them have been off for a little while, while others have been playing. The main thing is to get them in the right frame of mind and the mental attitude has to be right.

“We have to know that we are going into a game that will quite essentially be a dog fight but it is one to get into a very prestigious tournament and something where you can’t put a price on the experience you will get in playing in a tournament like that.

“But first things first: one game.”

New Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams attended today’s practice session and subsequently visited Cummings at the Port of Spain hospital along with team doctor Dr Terence Babwah.

Hart declared the averted stand-off between the Warriors and the current TTFA executive as “unfortunate” and “mentally taxing.” However, he said he was pleased with the progress by the two parties.

“To be fair, the new regime came in and they were not aware of the entire situation and it is unfortunate,” said Hart. “It is very understandable in terms of the players, and you have to support that. But that’s behind us now and hopefully mentally behind us because it was extremely taxing mentally.

“I know for me, I was a little bit put back because this is a very important outing for us… I haven’t had a chance to sit down with the President as yet but we have been talking every day on the phone and he has assured me that all things are moving in the right track.

“I have to trust him on that. That’s his department and I will try and take care of things on the field.”

On the plus side, Hart welcomed Central playmaker Ataulla Guerra and W Connection attacker Jomal Williams back into the national set-up and challenged them to force their way into the starting team.

“I have shown confidence in picking them and now it’s for them to fight their way into the starting line up,” said Hart, “to train properly and show me that they cannot be left out unless it is for tactical reasons.”

The Warriors coach said the squad were happy to be back together for the time since their goalless 2018 World Cup qualifying draw with the United States on November 17.

“This is the part that I enjoy and I think we all enjoy,” said Hart, “having the players here and on the field and back in training.”