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Nahki Wells all in for Gold Cup

Nahki Wells has committed to the Concacaf Gold Cup in July but not the remaining World Cup qualifiers next month (Photograph courtesy of Bristol City FC)

Nahki Wells has raised his hand for Bermuda’s bid to qualify for a second successive Concacaf Gold Cup.

The 30-year-old Bristol City striker has confirmed his availability for the national team’s preliminary-round fixture against Barbados in July and is keen on helping the island achieve its objective of making an immediate return to the main event.

“I am definitely 100 per cent I’m in for Gold Cup qualification,” Wells told The Royal Gazette. “Hopefully we can win that and then play the following fixture, and if we win that we get to the Gold Cup.”

The winner will take on Haiti or St Vincent & the Grenadines for the right to progress to the Gold Cup proper, where United States, Canada and Martinique await in group B.

The preliminary-round fixtures will be held on July 2, 3 and 6 at DRV PNK Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Bermuda made their debut at the 2019 Gold Cup where they bowed out at the group stage after suffering 2-1 defeats by Costa Rica and Haiti before a 2-0 win over Nicaragua capped an outstanding campaign.

Wells is unlikely to appear for Bermuda in the World Cup qualifying campaign, having skipped the first two group B matches against Canada and Aruba in March.

The former captain spoke earlier this month of the need for rest after another gruelling Sky Bet Championship season, which came on the heels of a shortened off-season because of a 2019-20 campaign significantly affected by the global pandemic.

Which means Bermuda will go into the matches against Surinam on June 4 and Cayman Islands four days later without their most accomplished forward as well as without their best defender in Danté Leverock, who sensationally announced his retirement from international football last week.

Kyle Lightbourne’s men are 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. Only the top team in the group will advance to the next round of qualifying.

Wells was City’s top scorer with 11 goals last season, a tally he is far from impressed with.

“Personally, it’s a very disappointing one,” he said. “From a goalscoring perspective, I’ve finished the season with 11 goals, which in my eyes is a poor season in terms of the goals scored, but I do understand why.

“I played a lot more games as a winger than as a striker, and playing as a wide attacker isn’t as beneficial in terms of scoring goals as the central striker role, so if I look at it that way, there are still positives to take.

“I played a different role a lot for the team and did what I had to do for the benefit of the team because of the lack of players we had available to us. I did my best.

“I would’ve liked to have had a lot more goals, but I still just have to take the positives. I played more than half a season in the Championship as a winger and was still able to chip in goals along the way, so I just try and take the positives where I can.”

On a brighter note, Wells remained healthy throughout the campaign.

“In terms of my fitness, I had a fantastic season physically because I was involved in every game,” he said.

“I didn’t start every game. But every league game I made an appearance, so it’s good to be at my age still showing how fit and healthy I am. I was still able to be available for a game every three days near enough, so plenty positives in that respect.”

City ended nineteenth after a late-season swoon that saw them winless in their last ten, taking three points out of a possible 30.

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Published May 25, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated May 25, 2021 at 7:34 am)

Nahki Wells all in for Gold Cup

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