Sidebar

24
Sat, Aug
24 New Articles

Typography
On paper, Tayside-home for Scotland Premier League teams Dundee and Dundee United-is the hotbed of Trinidad and Tobago football talent outside its territorial waters.


United, who formerly employed Caribbean and T&T Player of the Year Jerren Nixon and midfield legend Russell Latapy, now have Jason Scotland and Collin Samuel on their books. Two years ago, Scotland was lauded as his country's most gifted striker by then national coach Hannibal Najjar. Samuel promised much after scoring a hattrick on his senior international debut while still a teenager as well as over a dozen goals at Falkirk in his first full season in Scotland.

At Dundee, 28-year-old goalkeeper Kelvin Jack is considered the long-term successor to T&T captain Shaka Hislop while defender Brent Sancho, also 28, has already cemented his place in the national team.

But Tayside is still awaiting the best of the T&T quartet.

At the weekend, none were in their respective line-ups while Sancho and Scotland were late substitutes.

Jack has missed much of the season through a groin injury and remains unavailable to Dundee manager Jim Duffy as well as national coach Bertille St Clair while Duffy's decision to sideline Sancho is almost certainly linked to the dreadlocked player's reluctance to sign a new contract.

Samuel struggled to recapture his form with First Division club Falkirk in the SPL and it came as little surprise when manager Ian McCall, who was sacked by United last week, asked the ex-CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh to find a new club in January.

But what has concerned Tayside is Scotland's failure to build on a promising debut season with United.

After starting life as a squad player, the former Defence Force stand-out forced his way into the first team with some impressive performances, which had McCall gushing over his potential.

McCall insisted that Scotland should easily score over 10 goals this season after notching five last year. To date, he has managed just three goals and would happily settle for eight in total.

"I feel disappointed in a sense because I was playing to potential when I first came here," said Scotland. "I think I was going well but I just haven't been able to get enough games together (in succession). At the end of last season, I was playing regularly but now we are in a relegation battle and it is harder to get a chance."

At present, United are at the bottom of the SPL and in danger of relegation although Scotland said the players remain confident that they will avoid the drop. Caretaker manager Gordon Chisholm may be encouraged by their performance against Celtic on Sunday although United eventually lost 3-2 at Tannadice Park.

Scotland was introduced in the 86th minute in a desperate attempt to claw back a point following Celtic's late third goal. However, he failed to put away his chance when Celtic defender Stanislav Varga miskicked in the penalty area. Caught by surprise, Scotland could not get the ball out from under his boot with enough venom to beat Celtic custodian Rab Douglas.

"When you go on with just five minutes to play," he said, "sometimes you are wondering about if you will get a touch of the ball.

"Unfortunately, I was still getting in the game when the chance came to get an equaliser."

Scotland has another season left on his contract and is certain to get more playing time. Fans and manager alike concur that he is a talented prospect.

But he must still prove that he can be a top goal scorer in the SPL.

McCall said once that Scotland needs to get more "ugly goals"-the six-yard finishes that compatriot Stern John thrives on.

Scotland admitted that he was still adjusting to the Scottish style of play and it is obviously more difficult to do so from the substitutes' bench. His lean spell at United coincides with his exit from the national set up and he suggested that the two were related.

He began the season in United's starting line-up but lost his place after returning from international duty against St Kitts and Mexico in September. He was an unused substitute in St Kitts and played just five minutes against Mexico.

St Clair has not recalled Scotland since although the striker understands that he has done little to merit a recall.

"I am not disappointed at not being called up because I am not playing how I would want to with my club," said Scotland. "Although I would like to know what are the criteria that the staff looks at for getting in the team."

At present, Scotland is preoccupied with his job at United. There are eight fixtures remaining this season and he is aiming for five goals. It would auger well for his future in the SPL.

Jack will restart light training today with Dundee while Sancho and Samuel will re-evaluate their careers this summer. Sancho's present contract expires in June and there is sure to be takers while Samuel has another year left on his deal but could also find a compromise with his employers.

Tough times at Tayside; but, hopefully, there would be a shift in fortunes soon.