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Club comes before country for Lambe

Training match: Bermuda held an inter-squad game at the National Sports Centre last night as part of their World Cup preparations. The Bermuda Football Association brought back 11 overseas players for training sessions yesterday and today as part of the build-up for the qualifiers against Bahamas in March (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Reggie Lambe, the Mansfield Town winger, has expressed his desire to play for Bermuda in their upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign, insisting: “I love to play for my country.”

Lambe, 23, has been named in coach Andrew Bascome’s 54-man training squad for the qualifiers, with Bermuda scheduled to face the Bahamas over two legs from March 23 to 31 in one of seven first-round pairings.

The Bermuda Football Association has contacted Mansfield, who have fixtures against Hartlepool away and York City at home during those dates, about the possibility of Lambe returning to the Island for one of the two qualifying matches.

Under Fifa rules, clubs are obliged to release their players for international duty, stating that “any agreement between a player and a club to the contrary prohibited”.

Although Lambe admitted that his “club comes first”, he said that he would relish being reunited with Nahki Wells, the Huddersfield Town striker, who has also been called up by Bascome.

“They [the BFA] are eager to get me to play in one of the matches,” Lambe told the Mansfield Chad. “I have given them the contact for the club as I don’t want to be involved [in the decision]. If they release me or don’t, I am happy either way.

“It would be good if I can play for my country as I love to play for my country.

“It is good to be around players I played with when I was growing up, local boys. It would also be good to be reunited with Nahki Wells at Huddersfield who I’ve not played with for a while. But I have a job to do here and my club comes first.”

Lambe, who has made 15 appearances for Bermuda, scoring four times, is hoping the bad weather allows today’s home game against with Sky Bet League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers to go ahead, especially as his parents have flown over from Bermuda to visit.

“They arrived here last night and were immediately running round looking for a shovel to clear my driveway with so I could get to training this morning,” said Lambe, who has played 15 matches for Mansfield this season, scoring once.

“My mum has been over before but it’s my dad’s first time and he is enjoying it. I was in Canada and it’s much colder there. This weather doesn’t really affect me that much.”

Lambe, who recently signed an extended contract at Mansfield until the season, was used sparingly under previous manager Paul Cox but is enjoying a new lease of life under his successor Adam Murray.

“The manager just wants us to go out there and play with freedom and make sure we just do our jobs,” he said. “It feels more free out there on the park. It’s amazing. It’s a new freedom.

“I wanted to put pen to paper and make it official so I could concentrate on the rest of the season and keeping us in this league.

“The lads in the changing rooms have been brilliant as have the fans, the stadium and the manager.”

Lambe said that Mansfield had no fear about facing top-of-the-table Wycombe today.

“I am just expecting a tough battle,” he said. “As a team we need to eliminate some mistakes as they are where most of the opposition’s chances come from.

“If we can put some of our own chances away then I don’t feel like anyone should be coming to our home and beating us.”

The other World Cup qualifying first-round pairings are Barbados v US Virgin Islands; Belize v Cayman Islands; British Virgin Island v Dominica; Curacao v Montserrat; Turks and Caicos Islands v St Kitts and Nevis; and Bermuda would meet Guatemala in the second round in June should they defeat the Bahamas.