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Schäfer rings in five changes for Reggae Boyz' must-win game

BOSS MAN: Jamaica manager Winifried Schafer

CORY BURKE is the surprise name selected in Jamaica's latest squad of 23 who will tackle Panama and Haiti in back-to-back World Cup Qualiying matches next month.

An untested striker at the highest level, the 24-year-old confidence and swagger on the pitch could provide the Reggae Boyz with the perfect solution to their lack of goals.

The Boyz desperately need to pick up maximum points in Panama on September 2 as well as claim a home win in Kingston against neighbouring Haiti four days later.

With Jamaica's chances of advancing to November's Final Round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers reliant on scoring successes in September, head coach Winfried Schäfer has wisely shuffled his pack.

Burke‎ has been selected in the squad and there are return call-ups for midfielder Omar Holness as well as a trio of defensive options in the shape of Shaun Francis, Rosario Harriott and Alvas Powell.

Burke has been given the no19 shirt, although the 6'4" hot-shot is unlikely to be given a starting berth.

Especially as he is currently only plying his trade in the third tier of the Major League Soccer in the United States on loan at Bethlehem Steel from Jamaican club Rivoli United.

Harriott and Holness have made just one appearance a-piece for the Boyz, veteran Francis has played five internationals whereas Powell has been part of the set-up since 2012 and was in the 2014 Caribbean Cup-winning team.

Defensively the Boyz appear strong on paper with the added additions of Michael Hector, Adrian Mariappa, Wes Morgan and Jermaine Taylor available.

Hector has been loaned out from Chelsea, having yet to make his competitive debut for the side, to German outfit‎ Eintracht Frankfurt for the 2016-2017 campaign.

Mariappa, released by Crystal Palace in July, is currently without a club but was recently in negotiations with financially troubled Hull City who have shocked the Premiership with two victories.

Morgan, the Leicester City captain, was on the receiving end of the opening day ‎shock defeat to managerless Hull City but found his feet in Saturday's scoreless draw against Arsenal. The powerful 31-year-old needs to be his usual rock solid self for Jamaica's nerve-tingling matches.

Taylor is a stalwart on the international scene having notched up 84 games for the Boyz. The Portland-born 31-year-old, who kicked off his career with Harbour View in Jamaica has played 19 times for MLS side Portland Timbers this year.

A familiar midfield includes veteran Rodolph‎ Austin, Jobi McAnuff, Gareth McCleary and Je-Vaughn Watson.

Attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins, who recently started playing for San Jose Earthquakes in the US, could be the perfect foil to feed the forwards.

Schâfer is expecting some fireworks from his strikers Giles Barnes, Burke, Claydon Donaldson, Dever Orgill and Lee Williamson‎.

Jamaica need to improve on their record in Panama, having finished 1-1 in 2004 and Schäfer’s inaugural match at the helm finished scoreless two years ago.

Yet the Boyz boast a strong record against Haiti, having last lost in 1984 and claimed victories in nine of their past 11 meetings since tasting defeat.

Jamaica registered a couple of important 1-0 victories over Haiti last year, following up their Gold Cup win with a success in their World Cup Qualifying contest.

Schåfer's squad are fully focused on the job ahead, but anything less than back-to-back victories early next month should end Jamaica's dreams of reaching the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

And should they fail then big questions will be as‎ked about Schäfer's future. It's game on now for the German and his Boyz.

Jamaica squad: ‎Rodolph Austin, Giles Barnes, Jacomeno Barrett, Michael Binns, Andre Blake, Cory Burke, Simon Dawkins, Clayton Donaldson, Shaun Francis, Rosario Harriott, Michael Hector, Omar Holness, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Jobi McAnuff, Garath McCleary, Wes Morgan, Dever Orgill, Alvas Powell, Jermaine Taylor, Ryan Thompson, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lee Williamson

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