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Darren Mitchell was the lone surprise in the 18-man squad selected by coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz on Tuesday.

Digicel T&T Pro League newcomers Central FC, nicknamed the “Sharks,” have expressed their delight with the call-up of speedy winger Darren Mitchell for the Soca Warriors upcoming friendly international matches against Belize on March 22 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, and Peru, away, four days later.

The 23-year-old Mitchell was the lone surprise in the 18-man squad selected by coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz on Tuesday.

Mitchell, who hails from Scarborough, Tobago, joined the Sharks in January from Tobago Super League outfit 1976 FC Phoenix after impressing the Central FC management with some exciting performances in the FA Trophy.

“Chucky (Mitchell) just stood out,” said Central FC managing director Brent Sancho. “We immediately made enquiries, and to the credit of the guys from Phoenix, they didn’t stand in his way.”

Mitchell made the move from Phoenix to Central FC along with teammate 19-year-old defender Dario Holmes, while the Sharks also snapped up another pair of Tobago youngsters, Rundell Winchester and Omar Charles from Stokely Vale.

“We knew there was lots of untapped talent in Tobago, and the FA Trophy gave us a chance to take a good look,” said Sancho. “We realised that without a Pro League club representing our sister isle, these players were not being spotted.”

Sancho was also pleased to see goalkeeper Marvin Phillip continue his run with the Soca Warriors squad.

“Marvin’s been great for us,” said Sancho. “His professionalism is an example to young players and he has earned the captain armband at Central.”

“Tobago’s loss is Central’s gain” said Sharks coach, Terry Fenwick. “There’s such a good crop of youngsters coming through the Super League teams in Tobago. If the island had a representative in the Pro League, they would be flying high with most of their team made up of home grown players.”

Including our striker Daryl Trim, we have five excellent young prospects from Tobago, and we’re over the moon that “Chucky” has come to the attention of the national team coaches.”

Fenwick said the selection of Mitchell was no surprise to the Central FC coaching staff.

“He’s a great lad with loads of talent,” said Fenwick. “We could all see his potential.

“Kudos to national coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz for making a bold decision. We actually thought that Jason Marcano would be called up as he’s had a superb run recently.”
 
Sancho and Fenwick both applauded the selfless decisions of both Stokely Vale and 1976 FC Phoenix in allowing the players to move to Central FC.

“Without a doubt,” said Fenwick. “Their teams would have been stronger had the boys stayed in Tobago. But both clubs wanted the players to get a chance at Pro League football, and you have to admire their support for the lads.”

Sancho added: “We recently had a situation where some youth team players wanted to join us, but the Pro League club they were registered with refused to let them go. This benefits nobody as you now have unhappy players and the club probably won’t play them.”

The former Soca Warriors defender commented: “We understand that clubs don’t want to lose talented players, and there must be recognition of the developmental work that clubs have put in, but once a player, of any age, wants to leave, it makes no sense to prevent him.”

Fenwick is predicting that several more Central players may be in the frame for international call-ups in the future.

“Youngsters such as Winchester, Weslie John, Jameel Neptune and Charles only need a few more Pro League games to find their top form. What they produce in training is astounding and once they shake off the last of their nerves, they will be pushing for a spot on the national team.”

The Sharks rewarded Mitchell for his call-up by presenting him with a meal for two at J-ZZ’s International Steakhouse in Couva, one of the club’s youth team sponsors.