The Soca Warriors were given Carnival Sunday to Tuesday off, as Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence said it was important to understand local culture.
The National Senior Team began training last Monday in preparation for next month’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March respectively. The Warriors also play away to Suriname in a friendly international on 10 March.
However, Lawrence, a former World Cup 2006 defender, was pleased to give his charges three days off for the Carnival season.
“They are going to be back on Ash Wednesday,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “I understand as well that Carnival is part of our culture and I think it was necessary to allow the players some time with their family and Ash Wednesday we will be back on the training ground working hard again.”
The rookie national senior team coach did offer players the option of extra training over the Carnival period if they chose and, Wired868 understands, six Warriors took up the offer. The six were: Daneil Cyrus, Carlyle Mitchell, Nathan Lewis, Tyrone Charles, Leston Paul and Jomoul Francois.
Lawrence set up a special session to accommodate them.
The Warriors coach also added Central FC captain and midfielder Darren Mitchell to his initial 27-man squad last week. Versatile W Connection defender Alvin Jones is also back after a trial with MLS club Minnesota United.
The lanky former Everton FC and Wigan Athletic assistant coach said he was pleased with his players’ efforts so far.
“The players have applied themselves in the right way,” said Lawrence. “I think this week was important for us getting together as a group for the players to understand the way myself and the staff wants to work. I think they have showed a fantastic attitude towards the work and hopefully it’s been beneficial towards the players with regards to fitness first and foremost.
“Technically we have to improve on things but in general the players have showed a good attitude. I am pleased with the progress but there’s still a long way to go.”
Lawrence, a former assistant coach at Everton FC, also introduced the Global Positioning System (GPS) system to the senior team programme for the first time.
Former Warriors head coach Stephen Hart previously pleaded unsuccessfully with former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee and his successor and incumbent David John-Williams for the GPRS software, which is designed to analyse players’ physical condition in detail.
However, Lawrence was able to get the software, which was acquired on a two-month loan basis by John-Williams. The implementation of the GPRS is being overseen by Stephen Bradley, who is a member of Lawrence’s coaching staff.
The players must wear a jacket with a tiny radio that transmits data of the player’s physical condition to the computer—operated by Bradley—during training sessions. This information is supposed to clarify everything from the player’s pulse rate, blood pressure, blood circulation, the condition of important bones in his body and his endurance capacity.
“I think it’s been fantastic,” said Lawrence. “We allowed the players to feel themselves into it. We did a full presentation on it and the players are fully clear on what the GPRS does and I am hoping to see a reaction to that.”
The GPRS should allow Lawrence to monitor any changes in his players’ physical condition over the Carnival.
“I think it is important to work in trust in any organisation,” said Lawrence. “I have given the players trust. They all understand and they know exactly what I expect of them over the next three days. We have worked hard over the past six days.”
(Trinidad and Tobago 28-man squad)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Glenroy Samuel (Ma Pau Stars), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Andre Marchan (Defence Force);
Defenders: Carlyle Mitchell (Unattached), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Julius James (Central FC), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Unattached), Daniel Cyrus (Unattached), Jelani Peters, Jesus Perez, Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones (all W Connection);
Midfielders: Leston Paul, Sean De Silva, Darren Mitchell (all Central FC), Akeem Humphrey, Jared London (both Club Sando), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Tyrone Charles, Nathan Lewis (both San Juan Jabloteh), Jomoul Francois (St Ann’s Rangers);
Forwards: Keron Cummings (Central FC), Jamille Boatswain, Hashim Arcia (both Defence Force), Akeem Roach (Club Sando), Jameel Perry (Police FC).