Jeff Wood today announced his squad of the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers away to Estonia and home to Belgium. Wood named a 26 man squad which will later be reduced to 23 players prior to the squads departure to Tallinn.
— GibFootballTalk (@GibFootballTalk) 23 September 2016
There are 3 noticeable inclusions in the squad. There is return for Adam Priestly who has not featured since the home Euro qualifier against Germany. The Alfreton Town striker had been hampered by a serious of injuries but appears to have done enough to convince Wood he is ready for the call up. The name many fans will be happy to see is Gibraltar United’s new signing Ashley Rodriguez. The former Lions and Glacis man had been the name on everyone’s’ lips to earn a call up. Rodriguez captain the Gibraltar Island games side last summer and now has the chance to impress the full international head coach. A new name to the scene is goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim. The goalkeeper, who plays for Dartford in the National League South appears to have been on Wood’s radar for some time and seems to have done enough for a call up. The keeper also recently scored a goal in his side’s game against Hungerford from a free kick inside his own half:
— kevin stuart taylor (@kstdart) 28 August 2016
It will be interesting to see which of the 4 keepers will be axed from the squad prior to the Estonia game. Wood has selected 2 keepers who are UK based in (Robba and Ibrahim) will either of them make the trip out just to be part of the initial set up or will Gibraltar United’s Kyle Goldwin be nervously looking over his shoulder?
Another thing of note being the Belgium game is currently the final game scheduled to be played at Faro to date. There are strong suggestions, Gibraltar’s next home qualifier against Bosnia & Herzegovina in March 2017 could be played at the Victoria Stadium. However the necessary upgrades required could be in place in time to allow this game to be played on the Rock, however there is no official confirmation of yet to this regard.
A player who has not made the squad once again is striker Reece Stych. The Gateshead front man recently spoke to the Non League Daily about his current prospects on the International scene and the striker was brutally blunt about his situation:
“I’ll be completely honest and say the international stuff with Gibraltar isn’t even on my radar. I tweeted saying that the squads are selected with a political mindset. I spoke to the manager before we played Bromley [August 2016] and we had an honest chat. It wasn’t friendly, there were words said and he had little digs at me. I wanted to play for Gibraltar, I have always been available but he has his favourites. My argument was that I am the striker playing at the highest level. They have Scott Wiseman at Scunthorpe United, Jake Gosling is in the Football League but then there is me playing professional football. It disappoints me that I wasn’t considered, but he thinks the other strikers are better than me. I’ll get my head down and just focus on Gateshead. Maybe I have alienated the GFA and the manager but I have to say he is the only manager I have had a fall-out with. I spoke my mind, he didn’t like it. I still want them to do well, I want them to progress as an international team but this is football, there are ups and downs and that is how it has to be”
On thing is certain, Stych won’t be featuring under Jeff Wood anytime soon, but the current squad can look forward to playing against some of the best players in the world in Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne to name but a few.