Fri, Jul

Thirty-three resume senior men's football training.

THIRTY-THREE senior national footballers make a welcome return to team training, on Wednesday, at the St James Barracks ground from 9am.

The group will comprise of a majority of domestic club players who have been competitively inactive over the past seven months owing to the pandemic.

On Saturday, at a covid19 briefing, the Prime Minister said all national athletes can resume training at sporting facilities but must maintain all health protocols.

The returning players will undergo light training sessions in St James daily until Friday. From Monday, full team training gets underway at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.

Several foreign-based players, who recently returned to T&T, will also join in on Monday’s training session as Fenwick begins his task of assessing and evaluating the best crop of athletes for the dawning 2021 season.

In March, T&T hope to commence its 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign while the Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers kick off in June.

T&T’s participation at both events, however, remains dependent on if FIFA decides to lift the national association’s indefinite suspension by December 18. On September 24, the TT Football Association (TTFA) was suspended due to “grave violations of the FIFA Statutes.”

“We’re going to resume with very light training sessions to pretty much see where the players’ fitness levels are. We’ve got GPS trackers on-hand so we can go through the players over the next week just to see where they are before we commence properly on Monday,” Fenwick said.

Since mid-March, team sports were shut down to minimise the spread of covid19. Local professional clubs competing in the TT Pro League and TT Super League have not been able to return to their respective clubs to train.

This lengthy downtime, according to Fenwick, serves as a major disadvantage for the returning bunch since they were restricted to mainly indoor physical training. With just a few months to prepare for major international tournaments, the English coach wants to hit the ground running in preparation for a hectic 2021 schedule.

As it stands, Fenwick believes his future national team selections depends on which foreign-based players are currently active and putting in the time in their respective league competitions.

“We’ve got to get back on track. People in the UK cannot travel and North America is clamping down so it’s not easy for anybody out there. We just go to get football up and running and recognise that there’s a lot of local players that are not on contract or associated with clubs simply because the TT Pro League is not operational,” he added.

Recently, several senior footballers returned to T&T from India, Central America and other parts of the world. There are, however, top players still currently competing at a high level such as striker Kevin Molino (Minnesota United FC/USA) and Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen/Belgium).

“We need to do our best we possibly can to get them up to speed. We’re in contact all the time and I make sure to connect with the players to make sure they’re ok.

“Simple things like congratulating them for the goals they scored like Molino yesterday (Monday) scoring two for Minnesota.

“We’re doing our bit to keep in touch with them but recognising the covid19 virus has got everyone in a mess at this time,” he concluded.

While the national coach was pleased to return to training, he reiterated that most national teams are “miles ahead” in their training regimen while T&T is playing catch up with no time to lose.

The media will only be invited to training sessions from Monday at Hasely Crawford Stadium.