National team coach Wim Rijsbergen named a 21-man squad last week minus players from Jabloteh after their management requested their exemption from the Digicel Cup to facilitate their preparations for the CFU Club Championship in late January.
However yesterday, on the urging of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, it was agreed that two players — Nigel Daniel and Kerry Baptiste — will rejoin the national team and were scheduled to be part of the training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The TTFF also stated that if the two players selected failed to show up they could face suspension from all football related activities at the club and international level, including the CFU Club Championship.
Rijsbergen stated that he had already started final training before the tournament with the 21 players selected and as such called on Daniel and Baptiste, particularly as the current squad had a couple players with niggling injuries, including Abiola Clarence (hamstring) and Densill Theobald (ankle).
US-based Yohance Marshall has also had to withdraw from the squad as his University of South Florida has decided against giving him time off from studies for the tournament.
Meanwhile, the team’s preparations continued yesterday with a morning and afternoon session at the Couva training pitch. So far, the players, with ten first timers at the senior international level have shown great enthusiasm in the build-up.
And American-based midfielder Osei Telesford feels this will work in favour of the hosts.
Telesford was part of the team which were in a training camp under former head coach Leo Beenhakker in Miami last year leading up to the World Cup and he has been one of the higher rated players out of the US college system.
Having completed his tenure at Liberty University, Telesford is hoping for a solid showing in the tournament as he has sights set on securing a professional contract.
Currently MLS clubs Kansas City Wizards and Toronto FC have shown interest and he is also looking at options on Europe.
“This a big opportunity for all of us and I think this is what will help bring the best out of the team for the tournament,” Telesford said yesterday.
“For me it’s a privilege to get the chance to play at the senior level for the country and for the other guys as well because we are very keen to show that we can do it at this level.
“Most of us are coming off college football and we were balancing studies and football and it takes a high amount of discipline to do that.
“Now we hope to take this over to the national team and make an impact. We know it will not be easy but the commitment and the drive is there,” Telesford said.
“I am looking to also make that transition to the professional stage and there are some clubs from the MLS and also in the Scandanavian Leagues that are already holding talks.
“Then there is the local Pro League which is a final resort so obviously I want to put on a good showing,” said Telesford.
He said his experience under Beenhakker and playing alongside others who went to the World Cup in Germany has played an essential role in his development over the past year or so.
“I think just being able to be part of that training camp for the week and working with some of the other players has done a lot of good for me and of course now joining up with the experience of guys like Densill, (Gary) Glasgow and (Leslie) Fitzpatrick will only auger well for the younger ones like myself.
“There will always be obstacles in the way but I think that is what will bring out stronger characters and it will benefit us in the long run.
The coach has worked with us because he’s trying to get the team as best ready as possible for the tournament and we are hungry to rise to the challenge,” Telesford added.
The Soca Warriors will continue training at the Ato Boldon Stadium at Couva this week before facing Barbados from 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.