PICTURED: Jamaica forward and Phoenix Rising Junior Flemmings
JUNIOR FLEMMINGS and Kevon Lambert – part of Jamaica’s squad who recently battled to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals – have rejoined their club Phoenix Rising FC, who are on a roll in the USL.
Phoenix Rising, who compete in the second tier in North America, are on an eight-game winning streak and welcome back the Jamaican pair to add style and physical presence.
Yet their priority is to keep pressing for a place in Jamaica’s next squad, the CONCACAF Nations League.
Striker Flemmings featured in every match for the Reggae Boyz, and started in all but one game. However, he was utilised as an attacking midfielder in a central role rather than a forward playing on the wing by Whitmore. This was partly due to newcomer Leon Bailey given freedom down the right wing.
And Whitmore virtually overlooked midfielder Lambert, who made just one Gold Cup appearance, but gave him a chance to shine as a substitute in the 1-1 stalemate against Curaçao.
Jamaica, who made it to the Gold Cup semi-final stage for the third successive tournament, kicked off with a thrilling 3-2 victory over highly-rated Honduras in Kingston’s National Stadium.
Player discontent about monetary rewards and travel then rocked the squad, who forced emergency showdown talks with the Jamaican Football Federation. This meant that Whitmore had no choice but to tinker with his starting line-ups because of player unrest.
The Boyz were generally unhappy that they were travelling early in the morning after each contest, but managed to top their group with a scoreless draw against El Salvador and by fending off Curaçao’s late onslaught.
Panama were dismissed 1-0 in the quarter-finals before the Boyz bowed out bravely 3-1 to the United States.
Whitmore, who after the Gold Cup has been heavily criticised for his team selection following their convincing opening win, had a tough task keeping up the squad’s morale and wisely dropped those deemed to be rebels.
He is expected to shake-up his next squad when Jamaica tackle Antigua & Barbuda in the Nations League in early September, with much-travelled former Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison expected to be given the nod to make his international debut.
With a plethora of talent across the island, and so many players to choose from plying their trade in North America, Whitmore at least has breathing space to experiment ahead of the all important FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
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