Canada heads into the final set of World Cup qualifiers with two of it’s key players having seen very little playing time at club level recently.
Regular starting right-back Richie Laryea has yet to play at club level in 2022. And midfielder Stephen Eustáquio has played only four games for his club since January.
But while Canada coach John Herdman admits a lack of recent playing time could be troublesome for the pair, he believes they’ll play important roles over the next ten days as the men’s national team looks book its ticket to World Cup 2022.
“You’ve always got those concerns as a coach,” said Herdman during a media conference Sunday. “But I think you (shouldn’t) underestimate either the power of the human will and the human potential.”
Big moves to big clubs in January
Laryea earned a big transfer from Toronto FC to Nottingham Forest in January, signing a three-and-a-half year deal with the English EFL Championship club.
But the 27-year-old has yet to make a first-team appearance and has only recently begun to be named to the substitute’s bench.
Similarly, midfielder Eustaquio was loaned out by Paços de Ferreira to Portuguese giants FC Porto, both of the Portugal Primeira Liga.
And while the 25-year-old has managed to break his way into the first team, performing well on each occasion, he’s only made four appearances in three months.
‘Resilient mindset’ key for Laryea and Eustáquio
But Herdman seems to understand that breaking into the squads at these bigger clubs was the challenge Laryea and Eustaquio were taking on with their January moves.
And Canada’s coach is certain they’ll step up for the national team, even if he may need to take extra care of them over the next three games against Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama.
“Players like that can turn it on when they need to. What we know is, they might not be able to turn it on for 95 minutes. There’ll be a period in the game when I think these players will suffer a bit.”
“But at the end of the day, they’ve shown a resilient mindset.”