Gibraltar manager Jeff Wood named his final 23-man squad for the games against Poland and Scotland today, with some of Wood’s decisions causing strong debate with the local football community.
Goalkeepers stay the same with Perez, Robba & Neale keeping their place. With UEFA requiring three keepers are registered in a squad, only injury would have seen any of the three miss out on this squad, and it seems Wood is settled on this particular trio for the time being.
The only change in defence sees Jack Sergeant miss out, after not fully recovering from an injury he picked up against Ireland. Sergeant played for Manchester in the 2-2 draw against Lynx last Friday, but failed to make the cut for this squad, so the 20-year-old will not be able to add to his nine caps for the national team.
The midfield is where Wood’s decisions have caused the most debate and discussion., Jeremy Lopez yesterday pulled out of the squad after stating “he didn’t deserve the call-up”. Aaron Payas pulled out again due to personal reasons, which meant Manchester 62 veteran Daniel Duarte was called up to the national team for the first time since March. Jesse Victory was another player who makes up the unlucky four to be cut from the squad.
A lot of hype was placed around Lions’ Evan Green when he was announced in the 27-man squad, and many believed that Green deserved a place in the final squad. Despite this, he was the sole attacker not to make the team, with the likes of Mikey Yome and Jamie Coombes making the cut. George Cabrera stays in the squad despite a long injury layout, while the likes of Lee Casciaro, Kyle Casciaro and JP Duarte made the team as expected.
With players like Adam Priestley and Scott Wiseman missing the squad due to fitness concerns, and a host of other players simply not making the cut, the current crop of players will have to ensure they perform to the best of their abilities if they want to remain in the national team for future games.
As seems to be the case nowadays, the Gibraltar selection process has surprised many people, who will no doubt question the inclusion of players who have had less than ideal amounts of game time in recent months. Jeff Wood will no doubt be happy with his selections, and will be able to give detailed explanations for every player he’s picked, but at the same time today’s squad will not dispel the theories of a growing number of people that the national team is picked on reputation over form.