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Coach Kyle Lightbourne has Gombey Warriors back in training

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Socially distanced: the Bermuda team training at the National Sports Centre last night for the first time since sport on the island was suspended in December (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

Bermuda’s preparations for their opening 2022 World Cup qualifying group matches against Canada and Aruba are back on track.

Squad training

In wet and cool conditions at the National Stadium last night, coach Kyle Lightbourne held his first training session since the Government eased Covid-19 restrictions.

“We are back in training; limited training until the Government change the situation as far as having contact training and stuff like that,” Lightbourne said.

“But we are back up and running, and trying to put wheels in motion to get ready for Canada; at least to get the local players up and running.

“We are not allowed contact so we just have to do passing, moving, ball work until we are allowed contact.”

Non-exempt gatherings have been increased from a maximum of ten to 25, paving the way for football clubs to return to full training.

The Gombey Warriors will begin their campaign with a match away to group B favourites Canada on March 25 before hosting Aruba at the National Sports Centre on March 30. They will then face Surinam and Cayman Islands in their remaining group qualifying matches.

Bermuda were meant to begin qualifying in October but have been delayed by the pandemic. The domestic season was suspended on December 6 after the Ministry of Health invoked Section 88 of the Public Health Act 1949 to combat the dramatic rise in the Covid-19 cases.

“This is a challenge and not straightforward,” Lightbourne added. “In any way, shape or form, that would be frustrating for every single country. It messes around if you want to have friendly games and whatever else you want to do.”

Although domestic football will not resume until the final stage of the Government’s four-stage plan to return to sporting activities, the home qualifier against Aruba remains unscathed.

Lightbourne has already conceded he may be forced to name an entirely locally based squad for the opening qualifiers.

He remains in the dark as to what restrictions will be in place come March, including issues surrounding quarantine periods for overseas-based players travelling between countries.

As well as the issues of travelling to Canada, Lightbourne is also aware that stricter travel restrictions in Bermuda could prevent some players travelling home in the first place, let alone featuring in the opener or against Aruba.

Overseas-based players include Bristol City striker Nahki Wells, as well as a non-League contingent that includes Dale Eve, Justin Donawa, Milan Butterfield, Reggie Lambe and Jonté Smith.

“When it comes down to it, I’m going to have to try and pick the strongest team that we have on the day,” Lightbourne said. “If those overseas players are available to come, then they are available to come, and if they’re not, then we have to also have players ready to go.

“But as far as I know, everyone is available right now.”

Two key players unavailable for the opening qualifiers against Canada and Aruba are midfielders Tre Ming and Osagi Bascome.

Ming has been ruled out with a torn meniscus while Bascome has seriously injured his anterior cruciate ligament.

“Obviously that’s disappointing,” Lightbourne said. “Injuries are a part of the game but we just have to have more players to pick from that are ready.

“That’s going to be the difficult part of when you are trying to replace two players of that calibre.”

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Published January 26, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2021 at 12:13 am)

Coach Kyle Lightbourne has Gombey Warriors back in training

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