Former T&T international and Europe-based attacker Collin Samuel has joined the roster of North East Stars, where he will serve as player/coach for the remainder of the Digicel T&T Pro League season.
The 34-year-old, 2006 World Cup player recently joined the Sangre Grande club as assistant coach to Ross Russell, who took charge in December.But Russell believes the former Dundee United attacker, who also had stints with other Scottish clubs Falkirk, St Johnstone, Arbroath, East Fife and Sauchie, has a lot more to offer.
"It's just for him to get back his habit [on the field of play]," said Russell, a two-time Pro League winning coach at Defence Force.
"So far he (Samuel) is doing well in training and he is quite excited to return to playing.
"But one thing that's certain, he has a lot of experience to share with the players around him. He had already started doing it as assistant coach and being on the field of play can be another plus."
Samuel, who had a brief stint with Guaya United in the Super League in 2015, last competed professionally in Trinidad in 2002 with San Juan Jabloteh–the club he served for just under two seasons–before moving to Falkirk for the start of his international adventure which included stints at Toronto FC and England's Luton Town.
Russell, who plans to bolster his squad during the mid-season transfer window (January 29-February 26), explained, "We definitely have the quality [in players] but we lack numbers and the right attitude. What we have been trying to work on, is the discipline to work hard all the time."
North East Stars are winless in their last four Digicel Pro League games, including a 7�0 drubbing by W Connection in their last outing.Russell's side sits fifth on the standings with 22 points and will welcome leaders Defence Force (32 points) from 3.30 pm on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium.
Meanwhile, W Connection wants to extend league form into the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying. "The aim is to continue our good run," W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean said this week. "We have to keep focus. We have the Caribbean Club Championship coming up also, and we want to want to do well and qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League again.
"This period is very crucial for us and it's also important to bring in one or two players in the transfer window to give the extra push."
Central FC and W Connection, last season's Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club champions and runners-up, respectively, will tackle Caribbean rivals later this month (February 24-28) in the preliminary round of the 2016 edition.
Central must travel to Jamaica for Group Three action, where they will meet host club and last season's third place finishers, Montego Bay United, and Scholars International SC (Cayman Islands) at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, Montego Bay.
While fellow Pro League outfit and multiple-time former Caribbean champions, W Connection, will host Group One in Trinidad at the Ato Boldon Stadium where they will welcome Club Sportif Moulien (Guadeloupe), Inter Moengotapoe (Suriname) and Atletico San Cristobal (Dominican Republic).