Thursday, 07 September 2023 09:18

No Antonio, no problem - Reggae Boyz coach confident despite missing key players

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REGGAE BOYZ assistant coach Merron Gordon said, although they will miss Michail Antonio, who pulled out of the squad for their two Nations League games against Honduras and Haiti, they are blessed with attacking talent and can cope without the big striker.

Antonio pulled out for personal reasons, while right back Dexter Lembikisa and forward Cory Burke had to be pulled from the squad because of injury.

Romario Williams will come in for Antonio, Demario Phillips replaces Cory Burke and Javain Brown takes the spot previously occupied by Lembikisa

According to Gordon, Antonio is a world-class striker any international team would be happy to have. Nevertheless, he believes their array of attacking options makes his absence less of a concern.

“Michail is always a big part of the puzzle. He is a world-class striker. He is a striker that does well against teams internationally and for his club,” he said.

He pointed that the West Ham player had some personal issues he thought he could sort out in a day or two but, unfortunately, will require the entire international window to complete.

“He really wanted to come. At one point, he was trying to fix things so he could come for the Haiti game, but it just wouldn’t work.

“The good thing is we are blessed in terms of the attackers that we have. Even though we may not have our starting striker, the replacements have been very good and very effective,” said Gordon.

“With Leon (Bailey), Bobby (Reid), Demarai (Gray), we can always tweak things around and make it work.

“Shamar (Nicholson), even though he is not playing for his new club, he wasn’t playing for his old club in the latter part of the season.

“Shamar is an international player who scores big goals against big teams and has proven himself to be a big player for Jamaica. So we will miss Michail but, at the same time, we have capable replacements.”

Meanwhile, Gordon revealed Lembikisa suffered a bruised bone in Rotherham’s league game against Norwich on the weekend and is not sure to return immediately for his club after the international window.

While Burke has been carrying a persistent injury, New York Red Bulls coaching staff, as well as Jamaica’s technical staff have agreed to allow him to try to recover during the window.

Gordon believes Brown should slot right in, having been a regular under head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

“It is a good time for Romario Williams to come and show the new coaching staff what he has to offer. Demario is so talented I don’t think I know which position is best for him,” he said.

“We have three young right backs (Lembikisa, Brown and Tayvon Gray) to choose from. He (Brown) knows exactly what the coaches want.

“It is not that Javain wasn’t playing well. We have three right backs and we wanted to really look at young [Tayvon] Gray and see how he fits in.”

He added also that the coaching staff has no major concerns with the changes.

“Having any of those (replaced) players is always welcome but, if they are not here, we do have capable replacements.”