Theobald, Julius James near N/E Stars moves; Central to square off with former players at Arima Velodrome on Pro League resumption

File Photo: Densill Theobald, right, vie for the ball with Defence Force midfielder Christopher Durity while representing Morvant Caledonia United during the 2016/17 Pro League season.
North East Stars have sent a stark warning to Pro League challengers, including three-time defending champions Central FC who they face on the resumption on Friday, with 2006 FIFA World Cup midfielder Densill Theobald and 2001 FIFA U17 World Cup defender Julius James close to completing moves to east Trinidad.

James, 33, who spent almost his entire professional life across leagues in the United States including the MLS, represented Central in the latter half of last season before returning to the US with Sacramento Republic, and 35-year-old former household name of Morvant Caledonia United, Theobald, who is eager to suit up for his new club, are awaiting international transfer from USA and India respectively.

“We have added some experience with Theobald and Julius James around younger talents like Duane Muckette and others,” said North East Stars head coach Derek King, whose side are also in the process of completing the signings of W Connection midfielder Kevon Goddard and former Morvant Caledonia, San Juan Jabloteh and St. Ann’s Rangers goalkeeper Jesse Peters in the mid-season transfer window.

North East Stars will host Central for the first time at the iconic Arima Velodrome from 8pm on Friday in a much anticipated rescheduled clash following a month-long break to assist the Trinidad and Tobago national team preparations for recent FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers.

Also on Friday, Point Fortin Civic, who snapped the Stars’ unbeaten run of six games on August 11 with a late 1-0 win in front of home fans in Point Fortin, will host San Juan Jabloteh from 6pm at Mahaica Oval in another of three rescheduled fixtures on the weekend inclusive of Morvant Caledonia United’s visit against MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers from 4pm on Sunday at the St. Augustine Senior Secondary Ground.

“It’s very important against Central,” King expressed. “(…) because if we win we go on top [the standings].”

Stars (16 points), with a 5W-1D-1L record this season, are third on the standings and a win for King’s men would see them hurdle W Connection and Club Sando, both tied on 17 points, for top spot while fifth-placed Central, with three games in hand, are hoping to improve their position and nine points.

“This is one of two games we have in hand,” continued King. “We have to make them count. Our players are focused and eager to get back into action after a month. We worked on match fitness with a number of practice games with some good results and I am hoping we can translate it into a good result against Central. But after analysing all games this season, we are aware that no game in the league is easy and if you slip up on any given day it can end in a bad result.

“It’s also important we try and give a good performance that Arima will love and hopefully a result that will reward the nice support we have been receiving. I am expecting the support to continue on Friday in Arima. Every time I go through Arima people always ask: ‘When the team (North East Stars) playing again?’”

This season North East Stars could boast as many as eleven former Central starters including Yohance Marshall, Kerry Baptiste, Rundell Winchester, Elton John, Kevon Villaroel, Kishun Seecharan, Adrian Noel, Dwight Quintero, Seon Thomas and goalkeeper Akel Clarke, once Julius James is cleared for action.

That figure could have been higher had Trinidad and Tobago internationals Leston Paul and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams not made moves to Honduras and El Salvador respectively.

Winchester, however will miss Friday’s game against his former employers due to yellow card accumulation, while team captain Elton John (thigh) and pre-season forward signing Cordell Samuel (ankle) are doubtful for the affair through injury.

“Central are coming to play their best,” continued King. “They have a good team with some quality and experienced players such as Jason Marcano, Keston George, Johan Peltier and others. We can’t afford to underestimate them. It’s also the kind of game with a lot of emotions on either side as players face their former teammates. It should be entertaining for football fans.”

Central, a shadow of their historic three-peat league-winning team of last season, are winless in their last three league games and five in all competitions. The ‘Couva Sharks’ started new campaign with just seven regulars—Sean De Silva, Jason Marcano, Johan Peltier, Kaydion Gabriel, Keston George, Nathaniel Garcia and Mickaeel Jem Gordon—of last season.

In contrast, last season’s table-propping Point Fortin Civic are currently unbeaten in five with the last two ending in wins for coach Reynold Carrington. Civic, already three points more than their overall tally last season under previous coach Dick Furlonge, are seventh on the standings, tied on 9 points with fifth and sixth-placed Central and Defence Force.

Civic will look to extend their unbeaten form against fourth-placed Jabloteh, a side on with 10 points and on a four-game losing spell in all competitions, but like Central, have three games in hand.

Trinidad and Tobago Pro League 2017
Upcoming fixtures
(Friday 8 September 2017)
Rescheduled Round One Match Day Two fixture
Point Fortin Civic vs San Juan Jabloteh, 6pm, Mahaica Oval;

Rescheduled Round One Match Day Eight fixture
North East Stars vs Central FC, 8pm, Arima Velodrome.

(Sunday 10 September 2017)
Rescheduled Round One Match Day Eight fixture
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Morvant Caledonia United, 4pm, St. Augustine Senior Secondary Ground.