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  • Young players to get chance under Hart


    Canadian national team coach Stephen Hart made six changes to the roster ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifying games against St. Lucia and Puerto Rico.

    Canada sits atop its four team group in round 2 of CONCACAF qualifying, with the full six points. The Canucks are two points up on St. Kitts and Nevis and could clinch advancement to the third round with two wins in the next set of games, provided that St. Kits and Nevis fails to obtain a point from its two games.

    According to Hart the changes to the roster were out of necessity.


    “We had a few injury concerns so we will take the opportunity to bring some other guys in,” Hart said via teleconference Thursday.

    Hart said that he remains focused on putting the best possible line-up on the pitch and is not taking the minnow opposition for granted.

    “We need to win. That’s the biggest factor (in our line-up decisions),” he said.

    Hart admitted that two players turned down invitations, but did not indicate who the players were.

    Two names in particular stood out. Toronto FC’s Ashtone Morgan, 20, and FC Krylia Sovetov Samara’s Joseph Di Chiara, 19, are both in line to receive their first Canadian cap.

    The case of Di Chiara is particularly interesting as he’s a player that bypassed the typical Canadian development pathways, opting to use connections to obtain a spot in the Russian Premier League.

    Hart said he decided to bring Di Chiara in so he could have a better look at the young player, who has never featured in a Canadian camp at any level before.

    “We’ve been aware of him, got a verbal report and seen some (video),” Hart said. “This will be a good chance to get a good look at him.”

    Hart said he’s been impressed by the limited amount he’s seen from Di Chiara.

    “He’s done well in the bits and pieces I’ve watched. He’s looked composed and is a technical player.”

    Canadian fans will be more familiar with Morgan, who has become a regular fixture for the Reds at left-back this season. The TFC academy graduate is also eligible to play for Jamaica, but Hart said that the call-up was not a cynical attempt to cap tie him, but rather it’s based on merit.

    He said that he would not give Morgan a late run out just to cap tie him.

    “I think he has to earn it,” Hart said. “Ashtone has other international options and it will be up to him to figure out what he wants to do. But Canada has been good to him.

    “If he deserves to play, he’ll play.”

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