T&T opens Copa America Centenario camp

Action from the World Cup qualifier between Trinidad & Tobago and the visiting USA (white jersey) on November 17, 2015, in Port of Spain. (Photo: Caribbean Action Images)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – Under a cloud of concern after receiving the news that team member Keron Cummings was shot in the leg outside his home earlier in the morning, Trinidad & Tobago opened a training camp Sunday for next month’s Copa America Centenario qualifier.

Head coach Stephen Hart expressed his support for the 27-year-old North East Stars standout, who will miss the decisive January 8 encounter against Haiti.

“I think if there is a silver lining in a shooting is that he (Cummings) is alive,” said Hart. “We wish him all the best to get back healthy, and then we can think about his football again. All the players and the staff are in full support. We’ll see him and give him our support. I think we have to rally around that and the game now has an extra meaning now because he was a big part of us.”

As a replacement, Hart extended an invitation for DirecTV W Connection forward Shahdon Winchester to join the squad Monday. Central FC forward Willis Plaza has also been ruled out due to a shoulder injury and will be replaced by 22-year-old forward Rundell Winchester.

A handful of players -- including Khaleem Hyland, Kevan George, Andre Boucaud, Justin Hoyte and Jonathan Glenn -- missed the opening session at Hasely Crawford Stadium. Hart expects to have his entire 23-man roster in Trinidad by January 2.

“This is the part that I enjoy and I think we all enjoy, having the players here and on the field and back in training,” Hart expressed. “The opening session is just to get everybody in the right frame of mind and in the right spirit.”

The winner of the Trinidad & Tobago-Haiti pairing will earn one of CONCACAF’s last two berths in the Copa America Centenario, which takes place June 3-26, 2016, in the United States. In their last meeting, Haiti posted a 2-0 win over T&T on July 12, 2013, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.