Sport

Daley aims to shrug off English setback

Oshane Tobias & Sean Williams

Sunday, May 20, 2012    

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KEAMMAR Daley's deadline-day transfer to English League One outfit Preston North End (PNE) was greeted with much optimism here in Jamaica and Britain, where he was expected to hit the big times.

The 24-year-old midfielder seemed to possess all the necessary trappings needed for him to gradually blossom into this country's next football mega star, but was he in for a rude awakening.

"It's been a learning experience as normally you go into a team for the first time it is not going to be right away, no matter what, some players get that opportunity, some name players, but for me, I'm not a name player who goes over there and gets into the starting team right away."

Since signing for the Deepdale outfit on August 31, 2011, Daley has managed only nine (eight as a substitute) appearances in all competitions — a stark contrast to the optimism that preceded his arrival, but opted to select the positives from the experience.

"I had to be working hard, but the changes with the manager had a huge impact on me because that's when I got less playing time and things just seemed to be going bad from then, so the first season has been good and bad," said the former Tivoli Gardens lynchpin.

Under previous manager Phil Brown he got two first team starts in Cup games, plus some substitute appearances. But all that dried up with the arrival of new gaffer Graham Westley.

Daley — a small, skilful playmaker for PNE and who is being grromed as the creative mastermind for the senior Reggae Boyz, is seen to be a victim of his very own strengths as a player. Not everywhere in the British game his sublime qualities are always appreciated.

"In England is it just more fast playing, physical playing and a lot of long balls as opposed to here in Jamaica where we play with the ball, spend time with the ball. Over there they don't spend time with the football, but that's just their style of play and we just have to get acclimatised to it," said the star of Jamaica's silver medal-winning team at the 2007 PanAm Games in Brazil.

Still, the diminutive Daley believes there is a place for his spcialist qualities at Deepdale, but with this new manager he just won't measure up even with his best efforts.

"They don't have many players like me and they really saw that I'm a good player to have in the team because they don't want to be going just one way with long balls, sometimes you want to change the tempo of the game, but some managers like certain types of players and even this new manager he likes six footers, so he's not going to have me in his plans," he told the Sunday Observer at a meet-and greet function at the JFF headquarters on Tuesday.

"It is not like I can't go out there and do the job, I know I can, but he never gave me that chance to go out there and prove it. I've done it over and over in the reserves and at training and even the players and the fans ask why I'm not in the team and I respond by saying it's the manager's job, but deep down I believe it is something else, it can't be that I'm not good enough," reasoned Daley.

Funny how things can change in a heartbeat as the former Meadhaven and Jamaica College star was buoyant about the move to the League One outfit, telling the club's official website back then: "I want to come here, make the Preston fans proud and show my teammates that I am a good player."

Daley left on a high last year after picking up the Most Valuable Player award in Tivoli's League and Knock-out double success and being named the Flow Cup MVP, and the transition from Tivoli to Preston was expected to be relatively smooth because of Daley's own lofty ambitions and also based on the fact that Jamaican players Ricardo Fuller, Omar Daley (no relation) laid a solid foundation for him at Deepdale.

Unfortunately, it never quite happened that way. Instead, Daley was reduced to a mere spectator for most of the season -- even as Preston languished in the lower-half of the table — and was transfer-listed by new manager Westley at the end of the season.

"The future is somewhat on pause now because I had a meeting with the manager before I left and he said I'm not in his plans for next season, though a good player I am, a player with good quality and experience and all these positive stuff, but at the end of the day all these positive stuff does not make up for me not playing or having a future at the club," said a disappointed Daley.

"I'm still a Preston player, but right now I'm just holding on waiting to see what happens next," he said.

But as Daley's career at PNE sits in limbo, he has agents working around the clock to try and get the best deal for the man deemed heir apparent to succeed Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore in the heart of Jamaica's midfield.

"Hopefully, after the World Cup Qualifers I can land a deal or someone sees me play and is interested in me. I have interest outside England; I never said that I wanted to play in England, I always said I would love to play overseas," he said.

Daley says his main focus right now is playing his part in Jamaica's Mission to Rio campaign.

"I'm excited because I know what international football is about and I'm always happy whenever I'm back because It's coming home and even though things are not the best, the mind is ready mentally and I'm hungry to play, to create chances, score goals and help Jamaica win matches," he beamed.

The midfielder suited-up for the Reggae Boyz in Friday's friendly against Guyana at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, which the hosts won 1-0.

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