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Warren ruled out of Aruba opener

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Out injured: PHC midfielder Marco Warren will miss Bermuda's match against Aruba(Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Marco Warren will miss Bermuda’s opening match of the Concacaf Nations League qualifiers against Aruba next month because of injury.

The PHC Zebras midfielder, who was the Premier Division MVP last season, is unavailable for the trip to Curaçao, where the match has been moved, after picking up an ankle injury while training with Bermuda.

Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, said he did not want to risk the diminutive playmaker.

“Marco has an ankle injury and is just coming back, so we don’t want to risk him,” Lightbourne said. “We want to give him a chance to find his feet and get his fitness.

“He picked [the injury] up training with us early in the summer and that was disappointing. It’s now up to the guys that have their spot to keep it, so to speak.”

Bermuda face Aruba on September 9 at the Stadion Ergilio Hato in Curaçao as Aruba’s home venue is unavailable.

Reggie Lambe, the Cambridge United forward, has been named as captain, with several other overseas professionals included in the 22-man squad such as Danté Leverock, William White, Willie Clemons and Zeiko Lewis.

“These guys have been overseas for quite some time so they have valuable experience of playing at a higher level,” Lightbourne added.

“We are hoping they can use that experience.”

Leverock, who plays for Narva Trans in the Estonian Premier League, is excited about representing his country again.

“I’m looking forward to linking up with the boys and taking care of business,” he said. “It’s always an honour to play for my country.”

There are also several newcomers in the squad such as Aaron Spencer, Liam Evans, Jahkari Furbert, Razir Smith-Jones and London Steede-Jackson.

Goalkeeper Jahquil Hill, who has trained with Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer, Osagi Bascome, Tevahn Tyrell, Furbert and Evans played for Bermuda Under-21 at the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica in February 2017.

“We have a good balance and some exciting players [the squad],” Lightbourne said. “We have some players that are nearing their peak and some young players that are fresh and hungry.”

Bermuda depart for Miami on Tuesday for a training camp before heading to Curaçao.

“We will spend a few days in training camp and put our strategy in place because it has been very difficult when you have so many players overseas,” Lightbourne said. “We are hoping to be firing on all cylinders.”

As for the threat posed by Aruba, Lightbourne said: “They have a Dutch coach [Martin Koopman] who has coached at the professional level. I expect them to have a Dutch tradition in the way they play.”

Bermuda face Sint Maarten and El Salvador at home on October 12 and November 16 before finishing the qualifying phase with an away match against Dominican Republic on March 24.

Those matches will determine the three divisions for the Nations League, which starts in September 2019, as well as the ten remaining Gold Cup positions. “These games are very important for the ambition of the team,” defender Leverock said.

“We will be looking to win all four matches.”

Lightbourne will be assisted by Ray Jones and accompanied by Maurice Lowe, the Bermuda Football Association technical development director.

SQUAD Reggie Lambe, Jahquil Hill, Dale Eve, William White, Jaylon Bather, Daren Usher, Donte Brangman, Liam Evans, Osagi Bascome, Willie Clemons, London Steede-Jackson, Zeiko Lewis, Tre Ming, Lejaun Simmons, Cecoy Robinson, Jonte Smith, Tevahn Tyrell, Roger Lee, Aaron Spencer, Jahkari Furbert and Razir Smith-Jones.

Danté Leverock is one of several overseas professionals included in Bermuda's squad