Sat, Dec

Lawrence names his squad to face Wales.

Trinidad and Tobago football team head coach Dennis Lawrence named his 22-man squad yesterday that will face Wales at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on the 20th of March.

T&T will see the return of Churchill Brothers forward Willis Plaza who finished top-joint goalscorer in the Indian I-League with 21-goals and, central defenders Carlyle Mitchell and Mekeil Williams respectively.

There were however, two notable omissions in; German-based winger Joevin Jones and Charleston Battery’s midfielder Ataulla Guerra.

The Soca Warriors leave on Sunday March 17 for the high profile friendly.

Trinidad & Tobago Squad


Marvin Phillip (Central FC), Nicklas Frenderup (HB Koge—Denmark), Adrian Foncette (Police FC).


Alvin Jones (W Connection), Aubrey David  (Deportivo Saprissa, Costa Rica), Daneil Cyrus (Al Orobah—Saudi Arabia), Sheldon Bateau (Sarpsborg 08–Norway), Carlyle Mitchell (Unattached), Mekeil Williams (Oklahoma City Energy FC—USA), Triston Hodge (Memphis 901 FC—USA), Ross Russell Jr (Morvant Caledonia United).


Kevan George (Charlotte Independence—USA), Duane Muckette, Leston Paul (both Memphis 901 FC—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—USA), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Khaleem Hyland (Al Faisaly FC—Saudi Arabia), Cordell Cato (Oklahoma City Energy FC—USA), Nathan Lewis (Lansing Ignite—USA), Levi Garcia (Kiryat Shmona—Israel), Lester Peltier (Al Orobah—Saudi Arabia).


Willis Plaza (Churchill Brothers—India).

Coach - Dennis Lawrence (TRI).

Wales Squad


Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Barnsley), Chris Maxwell (Charlton, on loan from Preston).


Ashley Williams (Stoke, on loan from Everton), Chris Gunter (Reading), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Connor Roberts (Swansea), James Lawrence (Anderlecht), Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Tom Lockyer (Bristol Rovers), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Paul Dummett (Newcastle), Declan John (Swansea).


Ryan Hedges (Barnsley), Joe Allen (Stoke), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Ben Woodburn (Liverpool), Harry Wilson (Derby, on loan from Liverpool), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Matt Smith (FC Twente, on loan from Manchester City), Lee Evans (Wigan), Daniel James (Swansea), Will Vaulks (Rotherham United).


Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Sam Vokes (Stoke), Tom Lawrence (Derby), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Tyler Roberts (Leeds).

Coach - Ryan Giggs (WAL).


Lawrence reveals reasons for Joevin and Guerra omissions and inclusion of Russell Jr
By Kirwin Weston (Wired868).

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence revealed that German-based flanker Joevin Jones and United States-based attacking midfielder Ataulla Guerra were ruled unavailable to face Wales next week, as he tried to explain his 22-man squad for international friendly action at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

Guerra, according to Lawrence, has a slight injury and missed several sessions while Jones allegedly asked to be omitted for personal reasons.

“I am not in any position to make any more comment on [Jones’ withdrawal],” said Lawrence. “I respect his wishes in that it is private and confidential.”

It is the second time in the past five months that Jones withdrew from selection despite being physically able to play. Last October, he also pulled out of a trip to Thailand after saying he needed to mentally regroup.

Lawrence criticised Jones then for his late decision—which left the Warriors with a player short in their travelling party—and published the latter’s letter. But he was more conciliatory today.

Once more, Lawrence pointed to the number of national players in their pre-season and off season as his biggest worry heading into the Wales clash. The Warriors coach addressed this somewhat with a three-week camp for the local-based players but suggested it also prompted his recall of 31 year old forward Willis Plaza, who is campaigning with Churchill Brothers in the India professional league at present.

“For me, I would’ve liked [my players] to be playing competitive football,” said Lawrence. “We tried to put together a three-week training programme [and] we managed to get three friendly games—two against St Ann's Rangers [and] one against the Police FC.

“[But] I think we all know is difficult because we are going take on a Wales squad that [has] got players that played over 30 games in the Spanish La Liga, 30 games in the English Premier League and so forth.

“So, in terms of the players’ match tempo, I think it’s going to be a bit difficult for them. So that’s why it was important to select a squad with a lot of the players that are involved in leagues, like Willis Plaza, Khaleem Hyland, and Sheldon Bateau; because these boys are more active at the moment.”

But how did Morvant Caledonia United winger-cum-left back Ross Russell Jr get in the squad ahead of overseas-based players like Keston Julien (AS Trecin—Slovakia) and Noah Powder (Real Monarchs—USA)?

At present, Powder is in pre-season while Julien, although still in season, has not played for his club since last October. Lawrence said Russell Jr—whose father, Ross Russell, played alongside Lawrence for Defence Force and Trinidad and Tobago and is the current goalkeeping coach—earned his chance by impressing at their training camp.

“We needed to strengthen in the left back position,” said Lawrence. “[…] Ross did very well coming down to the back end of last season and he was invited to be part of the training group and I think he really impressed with what he offers us.

“I think he deserves his selection.”

A versatile flanker, the 26 year old Russell Jr was considered better than useful at Pro League level with his ability to play in either full back or wing role. But his career trajectory was dramatically altered when he was charged for murder in 2016.

It took two years before lawmen realised they held the wrong man; and by then he lost his job as a soldier.

Lawrence suggested that Russell Jr’s international call up—his first at senior international level—was reward for his efforts since his release on 20 August 2018.

“Part of the reform is the boy [is] back now and getting his football career to where it should be,” said Lawrence. “I think we need to see that as a positive. A lot come out [of jail] and go back in.”

Lawrence suggested that he still hopes to have a look at players like Leland Archer, Akeem Roach, Shannon Gomez and Powder—who are all under 23 years old—but felt the short preparation time for the Wales match meant it was not the best opportunity to integrate them.

The Warriors coach confirmed that two local-based players were cut from his training squad due to failed drug tests but declined to name them. He said the duo could be important national players and he hopes they get the help necessary to return to his squad.

“Our job is to help the players, not to reveal anything,” he said. “The clubs have been notified [and] they’re working with the clubs.”

The Warriors depart from Tobago to Manchester tomorrow from where they will head to their training base in Chester, just 15 minutes from Wrexham. Their first training session is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Lawrence, who spent eight years in Wales as a player with Wrexham and then Cardiff City, said he had been trying to get this game ever since his appointment in January 2017.

Trinidad and Tobago, again, will play only once in this FIFA international match window. Lawrence said this was because their other friendly offers were outside of Europe and FIFA regulations advise against playing in different confederations within such short timeframes.

“We had the opportunity to play other friendlies, but [they] were in different confederations,” said Lawrence, whose outfit are preparing for the June 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Ross Russell Jr earns surprise call-up.
By Nigel Simon (Guardian).

North East Stars' Ross Rus­sell Jr, 25, a for­mer De­fence Force foot­ball stand-out, was the ma­jor sur­prise in a 22-man squad named by T&T se­nior men's foot­ball team coach Den­nis Lawrence for the March 20 friend­ly against Wales, in Wrex­ham, Eng­land.

The squad which de­parts to­day from To­ba­go for Man­ches­ter Eng­land around 5.15pm was re­leased to the lo­cal me­dia by T&T Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Press Of­fi­cer, Shaun Fuentes on Fri­day night, while coach Lawrence briefed the me­dia at the Ato Boldon Sta­di­um Cou­va yes­ter­day morn­ing ahead of the team's de­par­ture to­day for Eng­land.

The full team se­lect­ed by Lawrence in­cludes Shel­don Bateau, Cordell Cato, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Nick­alas Fren­derup, Adri­an Fon­cette, Levi Gar­cia, Kevon George, Ne­veal Hack­shaw, Tris­ton Hodge, Akeem Humphrey, Khaleem Hy­land, Alvin Jones, Nathan Lewis, Car­lyle Mitchell, Du­ane Muck­ette, Le­ston Paul, Mar­vin Phillip, Lester Pelti­er, Willis Plaza, Rus­sell Jr, and Mekeil Williams.

Last Au­gust Rus­sell Jr was freed to­day, af­ter two years in jail await­ing tri­al for the mur­der of for­mer Diego Mar­tin res­i­dent Sel­wyn Gaff, 28, who June 6, 2016, from a gun­shot wound af­ter be­ing found in the Mac­queripe hill­side.

A for­mer na­tion­al youth play­er Rus­sell Jr, who is the son of for­mer na­tion­al goal­keep­er and the se­nior men's team cur­rent goal­keep­er coach and his cousin Balon­de­mu Julius, were de­tained af­ter Gaff’s death.

They were both then dis­charged from the De­fence Force and for­mal­ly charged, a week lat­er, with Gaff’s mur­der, pos­ses­sion of arms and am­mu­ni­tion and shoot­ing at Gaff’s friend, Jesse Quashie, with in­tent to do pre­vi­ous bod­i­ly harm.

While Rus­sell Jr was cleared and freed 36-year-old Julius is still in cus­tody await­ing tri­al

Com­ment­ing on Rus­sell Jr se­lec­tion, Lawrence, a for­mer De­fence Force mem­ber him­self said, "One of the things that I iden­ti­fied from ear­ly on was that we need­ed to strength­en the left back po­si­tion, and un­der rec­om­men­da­tion from what I have seen of him, Ross did very well com­ing down to the back end of last sea­son.

Lawrence added, "He was in­vit­ed to be part of the train­ing group and I think he re­al­ly im­pressed with what he of­fered us and de­serves his se­lec­tion".

The T&T coach was al­so full of praise for the new call-up for show­ing great char­ac­ter is try­ing to get his ca­reer back on track

He said, "I think we al­so need to take in­to con­sid­er­a­tion that we are talk­ing about a foot­baller that was caught in an is­sue that he was ac­cused of some­thing and for which he was found not guilt­ing of.

"And if you look at it now, part of the re­form is that the boy is back and get­ting his foot­ball ca­reer back to where it should be, and I think we need to see that as a pos­i­tive".

"Be­cause a lot come out and go back in and we are talk­ing here about a foot­ball who is here now ready to get his ca­reer up on the track and its an ab­solute plea­sure and a re­ward for him to be where he is now, so I see that on­ly as a pos­i­tive", stat­ed Lawrence.

Speak­ing on the eve of the team's de­par­ture for Wrex­ham, Eng­land, where the 79th world ranked T&T will come up against Wales, ranked 19th in the world, Lawrence said he had three weeks prepa­ra­tion with the lo­cal con­tin­gent and would like to com­mend the play­ers that were in­volved in that prepa­ra­tion be­cause it was a tough ask.

"We had to put them through their paces be­cause I think we all un­der­stood they had been in­ac­tive for a long pe­ri­od of time which is not good for any foot­baller, so we had to try and make good use of the time we had".

"Sec­ond­ly, I would like to say thanks to Wales for tak­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ty to see T&T as for­mi­da­ble op­po­si­tion in their prepa­ra­tion for their Eu­ro qual­i­fiers".

"I think in all the prepa­ra­tions went well, bar­ring a cou­ple one or two lit­tle is­sues we had, which was well doc­u­ment­ed and has been all dealt with.

In terms of the squad se­lec­tion, Lawrence said he had one re­al is­sue in Ataulla Guer­ra who picked up a slight in­jury con­cern.

"The in­jury didn't al­low him to take part in the ma­jor­i­ty of the train­ing ses­sions and from that point, he wasn't in any fit con­di­tion to make the squad.

"Los­ing Guer­ra to in­jury is a blow be­cause he an im­por­tant part of the team, so he is not in­volved, and some­one else will take his place, and its an op­por­tu­ni­ty for them and that's the way we have to look at it.

"We al­so have the sit­u­a­tion with Jo­evin (Jones) that for per­son­al rea­sons had to ex­cused, rea­sons that I am not in a po­si­tion to make any more com­ments on.

"I think I will re­spect his wish­es in keep­ing it pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial, but over­all now is about the team, the group trav­el­ling from Trinidad to get to the UK to meet up in the prepa­ra­tion for the game against Wales, and hope­ful­ly we have got a squad ca­pa­ble of go­ing out there and rep­re­sent­ing T&T well and putting in a per­for­mance that will give us a pos­i­tive re­sult".

In terms of prepa­ra­tion for the lo­cal group, Lawrence said what he would say per­son­al­ly is that he would have liked them to be play­ing com­pet­i­tive foot­ball.

"We tried to put to­geth­er a three-week train­ing pro­gramme, and we man­aged to get three friend­ly games against St Ann's Rangers (two) and Po­lice.

"But we all know its dif­fi­cult and we are go­ing to take on a Wales squad, has got play­ers who have played 30 games in the Span­ish Liga as well as Eng­lish Pre­mier League.

"So in terms of the play­ers match tem­po, it's go­ing to be a bit dif­fi­cult for them, so that's why it was im­por­tant to se­lect a squad with a lot of the play­ers that are in­volved in leagues like Willis Plaza and Khaleem Hy­land, and Shel­don Bateau, be­cause these boys are more ac­tive at the mo­ment".

While ad­mit­ting his anx­i­ety about re­turn­ing to his for­mer club and city of res­i­dence Wrex­ham and the match against Wales, Lawrence was quick to point out that his team needs to re­mem­ber the big­ger pic­ture ahead.

"We need to stay fo­cus and un­der­stand what this is all about. This is part prepa­ra­tion for the Gold Cup be­cause the end re­sult is the Gold Cup and this is the next step. We al­so got the June friend­lies com­ing up, but right now we are in­to the Wales game.

Con­cern­ing then two play­ers who were re­leased from the train­ing squad last week af­ter fail­ing a ran­dom drug test Lawrence opt­ed against re­veal­ing their names, say­ing "Our jobs are to help the play­ers, not to re­veal any­thing. The clubs have been no­ti­fied and we are work­ing with the clubs and the idea now is to try and help these play­ers be­cause they are too im­por­tant for T&T foot­ball, so we need to help them so that they can be­come avail­able.

Asked if they would be re­unit­ed back in­to the squad in the fu­ture, the T&T coach stat­ed, "I be­lieve what they can do for T&T foot­ball is in­te­gral, so the idea now is to help them to work with the foot­ball clubs as the T&TFF is go­ing to as­sist in any way we can be­cause we need to help the play­ers.

"We need to get them where we think they should be and that is rep­re­sent­ing T&T foot­ball.

Mean­while, there will be yet an­oth­er home­com­ing for Head coach Den­nis Lawrence in Wales next week. The for­mer de­fend­er was able to con­firm use of the Ever­ton Train­ing fa­cil­i­ties for the se­nior team's first train­ing ses­sion on UK soil ahead of Wednes­day's In­ter­na­tion­al friend­ly against Wales at The Race­course in Wrex­ham.

T&T 22-man Squad

Shel­don Bateau, Cordell Cato, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Nick­las Fren­derup, Adri­an Fon­cette, Levi Gar­cia, Kevon George, Ne­veal Hack­shaw, Tris­ton Hodge, Akeem Humphrey, Khaleem Hy­land, Alvin Jones, Nathan Lewis, Car­lyle Mitchell, Du­ane Muck­ette, Le­ston Paul, Mar­vin Phillip, Lester Pelti­er, Willis Plaza, Ross Rus­sell Jr, Mekeil Williams.

Tech­ni­cal Staff

Den­nis Lawrence (coach), Stu­art Charles-Fevri­er (as­sis­tant coach), Stern John (as­sis­tant coach), Ross Rus­sell (goal­keep­er coach), Suresh Moo­nan (team doc­tor), Dave Isacc (medic), Saron Joseph (phys­io­ther­a­pist), Sam Hug­gins (train­er), Michael Williams (equip­ment man­ag­er), Wayne Cun­ning­ham (lo­gis­tics man­ag­er), Shaun Fuentes (me­dia of­fi­cer), Richard Piper (Team man­ag­er).