Thompson still in Bermuda reckoning
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, has not ruled out drafting Donovan Thompson into the national team set-up after his 15-goal scoring blitz for X-Roads in the Premier Division this season.
Lightbourne, a former Bermuda striker, approached Thompson last month about joining the Bermuda programme after as a reward for his scoring exploits this season.
“I approached Donovan a few weeks ago and he was unsure whether he wanted to be a part of [the Bermuda team], so I said I would give him time to figure out what he really wants to do,” Lightbourne said.
Thompson started his first season with X-Roads with two goals in each of his first three games. He has netted in every game, including a hat-trick against Boulevard last month followed by four goals in a 6-0 win against Dandy Town in his team’s last match.
“He would give us a different option to what we have at the moment,” Lightbourne added. “When it comes to a bigger striker we have only Tevahn Tyrrell.
“I’ve watched [Thompson] play a few times. I sent out an invite to see if he was interested and he wasn’t sure. He said he would think about it.”
Thompson played for a local select side in a four-team tournament involving West Ham United’s Academy and São Miguel, of the Azores, last season.
“I was watching him really closely in those games,” Lightbourne said.
“I don’t just judge people on whether they are scoring; I judge them on what they are going to bring to the team.”
Thompson leads Cecoy Robinson, Lejuann Simmons, Keishen Bean and Angelo Simmons in the scoring charts. Robinson has nine goals in all competitions, Lejuan Simmons and Bean with seven and Angelo Simmons and Dion Stovell of Paget with six.
That Robinson started on the bench against El Salvador in a Concacaf Nations League Qualifier, highlighting the quality the Bermuda team have in attacking positions.
With at least a dozen of his squad based overseas, Lightbourne is aware it can be a challenge trying to keep local players motivated.
“Some people don’t want to sit on the bench,” he acknowledged. “I cannot promise anyone that they are going to play; that’s not how the coaching staff runs the team. We’ll give Donovan time and see where we go from there.
“He’s the form striker in Bermuda and is in a rich vein of form. It breeds confidence in a team when you have someone like that.”
Bermuda employed a 4-4-1-1 formation against El Salvador, with Reggie Lambe playing just behind striker Nahki Wells, who ended a 3½-year absence from the Bermuda team to score the winner in the second half.
“I’ve watched how Donavan has scored a lot of his goals, many from his own doing,” Lightbourne said. “He’s not afraid to chase down a ball to put a defender under pressure.
“He wants to get in the box; that’s always the sign of a striker who’s not afraid to miss.”
The Nations League is helping the smaller islands in the region build their national programmes.
“It’s not like we’ve got one game and won’t play again until a year later,” Lightbourne added. “We’re not just playing a game here and there. When there is an international window, we will be playing.
“We know our next proper game is on March 24 and a lot can happen in that time. People have to realise how international football works, you don’t get a lot of time with your players.
“We have talked about the players we haven’t tapped into yet. But we have so many players overseas who are doing different things and who we need to get in contact with. We could put a training squad together, but when it comes to picking the team only two or three may make the squad. They would all get frustrated.
“Our next step is to give the guys who are on the fringe of playing an opportunity to play. There are so many players, like Angelo Simmons, of Dandy Town, and it is just a matter of their availability.
“One position we have been struggling with is left back. We want a left-footed player in that position. We had Calum Minors [against El Salvador] who has done a fantastic job. He picked up an injury and we had to put Donte Brangman, who is right footed and that can throw you balance off.”
Brangman, of Southampton Rangers, is the only First Division player in the Bermuda squad.
“It’s not that I don’t look at the First Division,” Lightbourne added. “I did call up a player [from the First Division], but he doesn’t have insurance and in order to play for the national team, you have to have insurance. That’s what is required to play in this tournament.”