Returning Trinidad and Tobago international Carlos Edwards says that his recall to the national senior men’s team by head coach Tom Saintfiet came as a surprise to him last week.
The 38-year-old former Defence Force, Wrexham and Sunderland midfielder was speaking after his first three sessions under Saintfiet with the current training squad which he has described as solid but enjoyable as the team continues its preparations for the two upcoming international friendlies against Nicaragua with daily sessions at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Regarding the call up, Edwards told TTFA Media: “It came as a surprise. But in saying that a lot of people were saying that I should make a return but I was just keeping focused on supporting Ross (Russell) with Ma Pau Stars in the Pro League. Fortunately with the performances that I had, I think my selection was granted. I am happy to be back and amongst the guys… a lot of young guys but at the same time with a lot of skill and talent, so with my experience hopefully I can encourage the guys to fulfil their potential.”
He spoke about Saintfiet’s approach so far. saying: “Very positive so far. He has his different style and methods. He wants a full, fit squad and he wants everyone to be ready. He’s gone about it in the last couple of the days in the right way, getting to know the players, getting to see who can stand up to the strain and the pressure. The guys I think are enjoying the training right now and hopefully from that only positive things can happen.”
Edwards last played for T&T in a friendly at home against Jamaica in 2013. He later suffered a series knee injury while playing for Millwall which sidelined him for just around a year, with significant knee ligament disruption, involving the cruciate and lateral ligaments.
Edwards racked up more than 500 appearances in a career that has seen him run out for clubs including Wrexham, Sunderland and Ipswich Town. He returned from injury this year to help Millwall to within a whisker of gaining promotion to the English Championship, losing 3-1 to Barnsley in the playoff final at Wembley in May.
But having returned home to join Ma Pau Stars in the T&T Pro League alongside fellow former UK-based strike Jason Scotland, the former soldier began to show worth again.
“I never had second thoughts about the call when it came. I’ve always said that it’s a privilege to play for your country. Yes I haven’t played with the team for quite a long time but this time it’s nothing different. Yes a lot of people may look at my age but at the same time I am enjoying my football still. I still feel good and I feel I can still contribute something to the team and to the country. Only time will tell how things goes. It was never a second thought for me to return to the national team,” Edwards said.
He hopes to play his part in helping the team move on towards the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Russia 2018 World Cup qualification.
“I think we like to do it the hard way but it’s attainable.. It’s a new management. new coach, everyone will have their different style. I think he (Saintfiet) has his style of how he wants the team to play. The guys to mesh together, to pull in one direction and I don;t see why we can’t actually start putting points on the board and climbing up the table and hopefully come 2018 the guys can be going to Russia.
And he believes the two friendlies against Nicaragua in Managua on December 27th and 30th will play a key part in the team’s readiness for the Gold Cup playoff matches versus Suriname and Haiti at the Ato Boldon Stadium on January 4 and 8th
“In any game leading up to the qualifiers, regardless of who we play, you have to take the opponents very seriously. The guys have to put their feet down, It’s challenge because everyone wants be knocking on that door to be selected for the team for the qualifiers. You always want to win games and I think these two games come at a good time. We will go to Nicaragua and hopefully we can get to positive results in the two games,” Edwards said.
Goalkeeper Coach joins Squad
Also joining the squad on Saturday at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium was German-born goalkeeper coach Lukas Wojciak. He came in on Friday night and will join the staff instead of the previously mentioned Jo Stock, a late selection change made by Saintfiet. Wojciak also works as a goalkeeper coach with German Pro team Alemania Aachen and previously worked with VBF Oldenburg. He hold a UEFA “B” Coaching license and UEFA “B” Goalkeeping Coaching License. He had his first session on Saturday morning with goalkeepers Marvin Phillip, Jan Michael Williams, Adrian Foncette and Glenroy Samuel.