Lawrence assesses home-based selection in preparation for Ecuador

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s Senior Team Head Coach Dennis Lawrence addressed the media during a press briefing at the Larry Gomes Stadium on Tuesday about the team’s current training camp ahead of the upcoming international friendly against Ecuador in Guayaquil.

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Keon Daniel and Isaiah Hudson will be given the chance to prove themselves to national men’s coach Dennis Lawrence, as he expands his talent pool ahead of the forthcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama in September. (Newsday Article)

Lawrence was speaking at a media briefing yesterday morning at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.

The national men’s team, consisting mostly local-based players are currently in training ahead of a friendly international, away to Ecuador, on July 26.

Daniel, who is currently a free agent has not earned a national call-up since November 2013.

Lawrence, the ex-national defender, pointed out, “Whatever has happened to Keon and whatever has happened to Isaiah has not happened with me.

“Everybody knows my policy that we need to respect each other, we need to maintain our discipline throughout. And as long as they can conform to what I am asking and what I think is the right thing, then we wouldn’t have a problem.”

Referring to Daniel, Lawrence noted, “(Daniel’s) agent contacted me. We know that he was home on vacation so I invited him to be part of the training sessions so I can assess him and see how he is.” He added, “Every player that has a Trinidad and Tobago passport is available for selection in my view. Keon has been in Poland for the last three years. He’s been playing in a number of different positions. If Keon shows me this week that he’s capable and he’s ready, he’s going to be, like every other player, fighting for a place to go on the plane to go to Ecuador.” About the Hudson selection, Lawrence said, “Since (the Under-20 Championships), they’ve not been involved in (a) national set-up. The idea now is to try and integrate the players that are below the age of 23 closer to the senior team.

“My idea is to bring them in so they have an idea,” he continued. “So when the time comes, and it’s time to be involved with the senior team, they’ll have a better concept of what we want to do.” Another shock callup was FC Santa Rosa striker Kerron Clarke, the lone non-Pro League player among the local- based bunch.

“I’ve been going to the Super League,” said Lawrence.

“One thing I know about the boy is that he knows how to finish.

“He’s a natural goalscorer.I’ve got questions in my head in terms of physicality because it’s (a different level) in the Super League. But the only way I can answer these questions is (with) the Ecuador friendly.

“It’s a position on the pitch that we need to improve on….the goalscoring aspect,” added the TT coach. “The opportunity has come. We need to give him a try and this is the best place to do it.

And I hope that the boy does well.” Lawrence noted, “The top leagues are always the place that the best players play in. You do find the rare ones that play at a level that might be able to cope. So it’s an open door for all players.” About the make-up of the training squad, Lawrence said, “The main focus is the group that we have, mainly the Pro League players.

“We were lucky to acquire the services of (Indian-based duo) Willis Plaza (and) Carlyle Mitchell, (and Mexico- based) Jomal Williams who will join the group.

“Those are the only foreign-based players that we have,” he added.

Concerning the Ecuador match, Lawrence said, “It’s going to be a very difficult game. Ecuador is a top team in the South American (region).

But it’s going to be a great test for the boys.

They need these sort of exposure.” Trinidad and Tobago are the only team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round Qualifiers who are not participating at the current CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.

“It would have been a great benefit for us if we were in the Gold Cup,” Lawrence admitted.

“I think it would have been added value to our preparations.

But the benefit that I’ve took out of it is that at least the players are actively playing in the Pro League. We’ve managed to acquire this friendly against Ecuador and we’re trying to see how we can be more prepared for the Honduras game.”