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Pro League top-scorer Kerry Baptiste (#14) among eight ‘locals’ on T&T squad for WCQIn-form Joe Public midfielder Kerry Baptiste is among eight local players from the Digicel Pro League named by Soca Warriors coach Russell Latapy.

Latapy, a former national captain selected a strong 22-man squad to continue preparing for Saturday’s 2010 Concacaf World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Tobago from 6pm.

Baptiste, who has been overlooked in recent times by national coaches currently leads the Pro League in scoring with seven goals in four matches. He scored hat-tricks in two recent warm-up matches for the Soca Warriors during a 10-0 win over a Tobago XI on Wednesday, and a 5-1 win over Tobago All-Stars on Sunday.

On Sunday, Yorke put the national team ahead in the second-half while Baptiste and Jason Scotland added the others. Five members of the T&T team were given playing time with the Tobago club on request of Latapy. The nippy Baptiste, who can also play on the right flank is joined in the squad by local talents Keyeno Thomas (Joe Public), Makan Hislop (United Petrotrin), Keon Daniel (Caledonia AIA of Morvant/Laventille), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA of Morvant/Laventille), Trent Noel (United Petrotrin), Hayden Tinto (Joe Public) and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip of W Connection.

The rest of the team includes out-of-contract duo, captain Dwight Yorke and Dennis Lawrence, Clayton Ince (Walsall), Jan-Michael Williams (Ferencváros), Marvin Andrews (Raith Rovers), Khaleem Hyland (Zulte Waregem), Chris Birchall (LA Galaxy) Carlos Edwards (Sunderland), Silvio Spann (Wrexham), Kenwyne Jones (Sunderland), Avery John (DC United), Cornell Glen (San Jose Earthquakes), Collin Samuel (St Johnstone) and Jason Scotland of Swansea City.

Yesterday, US-based duo Avery John and Cornell Glen, as well as Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones, were expected to train with the team for the first time—giving coach Latapy a full compliment of players. The squad checked in at the Blue Haven Hotel, Bacolet yesterday.

Looking ahead to the match against the Costa Ricans, who T&T has never defeated in a World Cup qualifier, home or away, Latapy said, “We have had a full week and a little more time of preparations in Tobago with the 22 players that will be in camp going into Saturday’s match. “I’m happy with the response of the players to the training so far. We’ve had a chance to work on different things in relation to the way we would want to contest the upcoming match and from that aspect there were positive signs.

“We’ve worked on getting the players up to a physical level that is conducive to international football and for the remainder of the week there are other areas which we will work on which will get us up to state of readiness for the match.” The former Porto and Glasgow Rangers midfielder took over the coaching job on April 8, after the resignation of Colombian, Francisco Maturana. Samuel, who was a member of the 2006 World Cup squad in Germany is hopeful that he can help T&T pull off a win.

“It’s great to be back in the national team. I’ve been away for some time and with my club in Scotland, things have gone pretty well and I’ve been playing and enjoying my football. On Saturday hopefully we can get it right and bring home the three points. It’s a good opportunity for us to get back into the race for South Africa and there will be no better way of doing it [than] with three points from Saturday’s game against Costa Rica,” the St Johnstone player said. Following the match with Costa Rica, the Soca Warriors head to Mexico for another World Cup qualifier on June 10 at the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City.

T&T 22-man squad:

Goalkeepers

Clayton Ince, Marvin Phillip, Jan-Michael Williams.

Defenders

Dennis Lawrence, Marvin Andrews, Keyeno Thomas, Makan Hislop, Avery John.

Midfielders

Keon Daniel, Khaleem Hyland, Dwight Yorke, Chris Birchall, Densill Theobald, Trent Noel, Carlos Edwards, Silvio Spann, Kerry Baptiste, Collin Samuel, Hayden Tinto.

Forwards

Kenwyne Jones, Cornell Glen, Jason Scotland.