No Wells, no problem
Nahki Wells has been ruled out for Bermuda’s second Concacaf Nations League match against Sint Maarten at the National Sports Stadium on Friday, while another striker, Lejuan Simmons, is fighting to recover from a hamstring injury.
Wells informed coach Kyle Lightbourne that he was unavailable because of family commitments. Wells, who missed last month’s 3-1 loss to Aruba in Curaçao, has a young family with twin boys born in March. He also relocated temporarily to London from Lancashire after joining Queens Park Rangers on a season-long loan from Burnley.
“We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m disappointed he’s not available,” Lightbourne said of the possibility of having Wells for the next home match against El Salvador in November.
“These things happen; we just have to move on and try to get the best result for Bermuda. I know when you’re on loan you could be separated from family, so this [international break] could be an opportunity for him to spend time with his family.
“He’s unavailable, but we’re not going to make a big thing about it because we’ve played a lot of matches without him. We just want to build a team and bring a feel-good factor to the squad by getting a result.”
Lightbourne was at Southampton Oval on Sunday to see his former team, Robin Hood, draw 2-2 with Paget in an exciting match highlighted by a brilliant volley by Dion Stovell. Jaylon Bather, the Bermuda defender, scored two equalisers for Hood to deny Paget a second straight victory.
Simmons came off the bench for Hood early in the second half, and his fitness will be closely monitored ahead of Friday’s match.
“He’s been working with the physio Craig [Brown] for some time.,” Lightbourne revealed.
“We’ll test it out tonight and make a decision early enough about him. He started in the last match for us so we have to give him every opportunity to be fit or not fit.
Craig will give us the right information and I’ll be able to see it in training as well.”
Most of the overseas-based players have already returned, with captain Reggie Lambe, due to arrive tonight from English club Cambridge United. It is a crucial match for Bermuda as both they and Sint Maarten are coming off losses in their opening matches, with Sint Maarten going down 13-0 to Haiti.
Now Lightbourne is calling on his players to raise their game in this crucial home match. “As I said to the players last night, after our last performance, nobody should complain if their name is not in the starting XI,” the coach said.
“When asked who was our man of the match, it was hard to pick one. We just weren’t outstanding.
“On the day, we just didn’t execute. Sometimes it isn’t about the tactics, but the will to win. I don’t think they beat us because tactically they were better than us, but because they took their chances and were prepared to defend their lead.
“That game required guys to dig deep and we just didn’t do it.”
Lightbourne said it was a “good possibility” of one or two changes to the team from the last match. The 11 overseas players will form the nucleus of the squad, with three changes made. Marco Warren, who missed the last match because of injury, comes in along with Casey Castle and Calon Minors, replacing Aaron Spencer, Jahkari Furbert and Razir Smith-Jones. “This is the second round, an opportunity for us to put some points on the board,” Lightbourne said. “Sint Maarten will be hurting from their last defeat. It’s another away match for them so they are starting with two away matches
“We just have to be in a positive frame of mind; one defeat doesn’t make you a bad team. We had a session last night to see where guys are after playing over the weekend. Making sure they got a jog and a stretch.”
Lightbourne was impressed with what he saw on Sunday of a youthful Paget team, who have four youngsters in midfield showing promise.
“I was interested to see Paget, they had a few good young players and it gave me a chance to monitor their progress,” he said.
“They just got promoted and you can’t underestimate them, I thought their left back [Delente Frost] was pretty good. We’ve been struggling for a left back. I was also looking at Dale [Eve] in goal [for Robin Hood] and looking at Paget to see if there was anybody we didn’t know about. Dion Stovell will be the difference between them staying up or going down.
“He didn’t have a lot to do in the game but had two crucial things, won the penalty and then scored the goal. It was a good game but I thought Robin Hood were below par.
“Paget played with guts, determination and once they got that lead they were determined to defend that lead. They’ll surprise a few more teams, especially up at Rangers. They have some experienced players in the heart of the defence — McQuinn [Burch], Robert [Richardson] and goalkeeper Jason [Smith].”
Friday’s match starts at 7.30pm, with the gates opening at 5.30. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at ptix.bm or at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence.
(to face Sint Maarten on Friday): Jahquil Hill, Dale Eve, Dante Leverock, William White, Jaylon Bather, Daren Usher, Donte Brangman, Liam Evans, Osagi Bascome, Willie Clemons, London Steede-Jackson, Zeiko Lewis, Tre Ming, Lejuan Simmons, Cecoy Robinson, Reginald Lambe, Jonte Smith, Tevahn Tyrrell, Roger Lee, Casey Castle, Marco Warren, Calon Minors. Head coach: Kyle Lightbourne. Assistant coach: Ray Jones. Manager: Brendalee White. Goalkeeper coach: John Moreira. Kit manager: Duane Dickinson. Physio: Craig Brown.
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