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Nahki Wells virtually rules himself out of remaining World Cup qualifiers

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Nahki Wells with the Bristol City Golden Boot as the club's leading scorer on 11 goals (Photograph courtesy of Bristol City FC)
Nahki Wells

Bermuda face again being without star player Nahki Wells for the upcoming World Cup qualifying commitments, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

The Bristol City striker missed the first two Concacaf Zone group B qualifying matches against Canada and Aruba in Florida in March.

Now his availability for the matches next month against Surinam and the Cayman Islands has been put in doubt as he contemplates a period of rest at the end of another typically gruelling season in the Sky Bet Championship.

“I’m uncertain whether I will be available,” Wells told The Royal Gazette. “I’m going to have a talk with management mainly because if I am involved in those fixtures, I’m probably not going to have any rest.

“I need to weigh up the importance of actually having a rest after last season [2019-20] finishing, having a ten-day break and then going right back into preseason and then being involved all this season.

“I think, medically, it will be advised to probably have a bit of a rest if possible. That period is the most beneficial for me to get back to Bermuda and spend some time with the family.”

He added: “Obviously with the quarantine and stuff, by time I get out of that I probably won’t have too much time to spend with my family and friends before I have to go back in the bubble with the national team, so there is uncertainty on whether or not I’m definitely going to be involved in those fixtures.

“I’ll still play my part as an influential squad member, experienced player and ex- captain for any preparations or any supporting help from the side if I am not to be involved. But at this moment in time, there’s not a definitive yes or no.”

Kyle Lightbourne’s squad is third in group B behind Canada and Surinam, who both have six points after two matches.

Bermuda suffered a 5-1 defeat by Canada before bouncing back with a 5-0 win over Aruba. The national team will play Surinam and the Cayman Islands on June 4 and 8 respectively.

While the fixture against the Cayman Islands has been moved from Bermuda to the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, it is still to be determined if the Surinam match will be rescheduled from the Dutch-Caribbean nation.

Only the top team in the group will advance to the next round of the competition.

Meanwhile, Wells and his City team-mates suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Brentford in their final Championship match of the season at Ashton Gate last Saturday to finish nineteenth in the standings.

“Happy to get over the finish line in terms of the season being done,” said Wells, who was City’s top scorer with 11 goals. “It’s been a long, gruelling season on the back of a very short break in between the end of last season and the start of this season.

“As a whole and as a group, things started really well. We had a really good preseason and went into the season in a good place, and won four out of five and had a decent run of fixtures after that in terms of still picking up points. Then from that stage on the season went on a little bit of a downward spiral.”

The downturn cost Dean Holden his job in February. He was replaced with Nigel Pearson, who experienced an initial bounce before the club went into a season-ending tailspin that brought only three points from a possible 30.

Wells cited injuries to key players over extended periods among the reasons for his team’s struggles on the pitch.

“A lot of things have gone against us that I’ve never encountered in football,” he said. “The amount of injuries we had as a whole, the amount of important players that we missed for large durations of the season, meant we had to use the most players in the league.

“Thirty-seven players made appearances for the first team, which would be by far the most of any team in the Championship.

“It’s been a difficult year. We played under two managers and towards the end a lot of players’ contracts were up. It’s a lot of uncertainty among the squad, so getting over the finish line for us was very important.”

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Published May 13, 2021 at 7:41 pm (Updated May 13, 2021 at 7:41 pm)

Nahki Wells virtually rules himself out of remaining World Cup qualifiers

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