Lawrence: Lack of top-class players a concern.

NATIONAL men’s football team coach Dennis Lawrence is concerned about the lack of top-class players at his disposal.

Lawrence was speaking during the post-game media conference on Monday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, following T&T’s 2-2 draw against Martinique in their Concacaf Nations League, League A, Group C second-leg tie.

Lawrence, the former T&T central defender, was asked if he has enough material to work with, in terms of a talent pool.

“When you look at what we used to call on before, it’s not the same,” Lawrence replied. “We’re calling on a different level of players. A lot of our players are going to India and the target for some of them seems to be the USL (United Soccer League – US), and that’s what we’re picking from. That’s what it is so we have to just work with it.”

The T&T coach was diplomatic in his response, when asked if he thinks the current crop of players are good enough to succeed at the international level.

“I think the challenge remains,” Lawrence said. “If you look at the squad that was selected, we, in the past, would select squads based on performances for your football club. “We’ve got to a stage now where we’re selecting squads based on players just on playing football, which is not ideal,” he continued.

“Now the target for a lot of these players is to be selected based on performance. “I have to give credit to Ryan Telfer. He’s performing for his club and he comes and perform for T&T. I hope the boys can learn from his example.” Telfer, a Canadian-born winger, was one of three overseas-born newcomers called up for the pair of Martinique matches. Centre forward Daniel Carr (England-born) and midfielder Andre Fortune (US-born) were the others. Telfer made his debut in the 1-1 draw on Friday’s first leg, and Carr got his maiden international cap on Monday.

Commenting on Carr’s display, Lawrence said, “I thought he did well. He led the line and was very unfortunate not to get himself a goal (in the 72nd minute). With a bit more conviction, he would have put the ball in the back of the net. I was pleased with him and he can build on his performance.” An estimated 2,000 were on hand to watch T&T’s first international match at home since April 2018. “To the ones that turned up, thank you very much for your support,” he said.

“The only thing I can promise is we would always be working very hard to give them what they deserve. Regardless of what we do, we have to support our country. That’s how I am and that’s how I’ll continue to be.” Lawrence added, “We turned up tonight and the only thing we were focused on (was) trying to get a victory. We had it in the palm of our hands and we gave it away.”