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The Nation: Barbados Set for Take-Off........

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Set for take-off

by KIRK CORBIN (The Nation)

Published on: 12/31/06.

international BarbadIAN player Paul Ifill believes the country is a step away from being a regional football powerhouse.

The Sheffield United winger, in the December 2 edition of the English Premiership team's official programme, the blade, said that with improved facilities the island could attract more England-based professionals.

"We are not far behind the likes of Trinidad and Tobago in terms of ability, and are in the process of building a new stadium just for football, because at the minute, the National Stadium is shared with athletics.

"With better facilities, we're more likely to attract the top players," Ifill said in an interview.

The 27-year-old, who scored two goals during the Digicel Cup second round, revealed that the Barbados Football Association (BFA) was attempting to revamp its fixtures to facilitate the release of the England-based players.

"The BFA are trying to move their fixtures in line with the rest of the international calendar so they can attract better players who can get released from their clubs," Ifill said.

He added that Wigan Athletic players Emmerson Boyce and Fitz Hall, Marlon Harewood of West Ham United, and Doncaster Rovers' Jonathan Forte are all eligible to represent Barbados.

Harewood, an imposing striker, has started 14 of the Hammers' 23 matches this season and has scored two goals.

Boyce and Hall are both first team defenders at Wigan, while 20-year-old Forte plays in the attack for Doncaster, who are spearheaded by Barbados striker Mark McCammon.

McCammon led Barbados in scoring during the first round, but was unavailable for the second round after not being released by his club. Two other players based in England – Louis Soares of Aldershot Town and Neil Harvey of Wrexford – are also expected to be in the team.

It has been a bitter-sweet few months for Ifill. While he was instrumental in helping Barbados to qualify for the Digicel Caribbean Cup finals, he has struggled to get into the Blades first team, playing just three times in the Premiership.

Furthermore, Blades manager Neil Warnock recently placed Ifill and seven other players on the January transfer list as the team tries to boost their squad to avoid relegation.

The players have the option of leaving permanently or on loan.

The former Milwall player commented that he was happy with Barbados' rise in the world rankings, and that the team should move into the top 80 by the end of the Digicel Caribbean Cup finals, which will be played in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad from January 12 to 23.

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