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Hamstring injury rules out striker Devorn Jorsling

The final stretch of this season's Digicel Pro League has unexpectedly turned from a hill to a mountain for defending champions and title contender Defence Force.

With five games left to play: beginning with Tuesday’s rescheduled match against bottom of the table St. Ann’s Rangers from 6 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, followed by Caledonia AIA on Sunday 27 April, then back-to-back fixtures against leaders W Connection on May 4 and 6 before wrapping up against San Juan Jabloteh on May 13, the task was already an uphill one for the army/coastguard combination in attempting to catch the “Savonnetta Boys”.

Now with go-to forward Devorn Jorsling expected out for a further two weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in a 3-1 win over Police FC on April 13, the task of retaining the title at this stage is much taller than a hill.

W Connection, with three games left to play, leads the way with 45 points and are still favourites to take the title and the one million dollar winners’ prize in tow.

Apart from the May 4 and 6 fixtures against Defence Force, the “Savonnetta Boys” will wrap up its 2013/2014 league campaign against Caledonia on May 13.

Meanwhile Defence Force, with a mathematical chance at the title, are third and tied with fourth positioned Central FC with 38 points, one point less than second positioned Point Fortin Civic, who have just one match remaining against Caledonia on May 6.

But without the broad figure of the 30-year-old Jorsling in attack, Defence Force needed a stoppage-time winner for a 1-0 win over Police last Tuesday against the side they comfortably defeated a couple days earlier.

However head coach Ross Russell, who led his side to the league title in 2010/2011 and 2012/2013, remains confident in his remaining players to keep pushing for this season’s title.

“As was shown by Corey Rivers with his late winner against Police on Tuesday night, there are other players who can step up in Jorsling’s absence,” Russell told the Trinidad Guardian. “There are others like Richard Roy, Josimar Belgrave and Balondemu Julius.

“Those guys have all done it before this season and in previous campaigns and I have full confidence that when called upon they will be able to get the goals.”

The Army coach added, “We are all professionals and know what’s at stake in the end and we will just continue to work very hard in training and take each match as it come. We are now on a good run of form and the team is playing much better football while the guys are also fitter, and we will be pushing straight down to the final match of the season to keep our crown.”

Defence Force are on a seven-match winning streak in the league, a massive achievement for a side that endured a start-stop-start season along with having to deal with the deaths of two key players in defender Rawle Fletcher, who was murdered last December 22, and more recently winger Kevon Carter, who died February 28 following a heart-attack during a morning training session at the Defence Force’s Macqueripe Base Volunteers Ground earlier the same day.

Prior to Carter’s death, the team was issued a self-imposed suspension by the T&T Defence Force on January 10, which saw all Defence Force teams pulled from sporting activities at national, regional and community levels.

The suspension came following Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call to use every possible resource in the fight against the disturbing spike in violent crime, which at the time, led to 22 murders just ten days into 2014.

A statement by the TTDF back then, said the suspension was in favour of the operational exigencies of the service and because of the particular requirements personnel are expected to satisfy.  The statement also said that the self-imposed suspension would last as long as is deemed necessary by the TTDF. They eventually return to Pro League action in February.

Now with leading striker and former Toyota/Pro League Player of the Year Jorsling, with 9 league goals this season, side-lined, it’s indeed a massive blow.

Central FC will also be in action on Tuesday against Police FC in a rescheduled match from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium. The Terry Fenwick coached-“Sharks”, winners of this season’s First Citizens Cup, stands with the slimmest of mathematical chances at the league title although having to face bottom of the table Jabloteh and Rangers on May 6 and 13 respectively following Tuesday’s clash against Police.

Even the chance of a top two finish, which qualifies clubs to the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship, a qualifier to the Concacaf Champions League, remains a difficult challenge.

On Friday 25 April Central and W Connection, winners of this season’s Digicel Charity Shield, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy, will interrupt their league duties to tackle each other in the Final of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Tuesday 22 April

Rescheduled fixtures

Defence Force vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6 pm (Round Three Match Day Five), Ato Boldon Stadium

Central FC vs Police FC—8 pm (Round Three Match Day Five), Ato Boldon Stadium

Sunday 27 April

Rescheduled fixture

Defence Force vs Caledonia AIA (Round Three Match Day Four), Ato Boldon Stadium

Sunday 4 May

Rescheduled fixture

W Connection vs Defence Force (Round Two Match Day Eight), Ato Boldon Stadium

Tuesday 6 May

Round Three Match Day Eight

Caledonia AIA vs Point Fortin Civic

Defence Force vs W Connection

North East Stars vs St. Ann’s Rangers

Central FC vs San Juan Jabloteh

Tuesday 13 May

Round Three Match Day Nine

Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers

W Connection vs Caledonia AIA

Police FC vs North East Stars

San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force