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Davies, Akinola highlight Canada’s Gold Cup squad, David among key omissions

At just 20-years old, Alphonso Davies is already a CONCACAF Gold Cup veteran.

The star Bayern Munich left back highlights a group of 12 returning players on Canada’s 23-man roster for the championship for teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean, which kicks off July 10.

It will be the third Gold Cup appearance for Davies, who has already made a name for himself at the tournament. He won the Golden Boot as top scorer (with three goals) and was named the best young player at the 2017 edition.

Davies’ inclusion underlines his commitment to the Canadian cause, as he will miss the beginning of Bayern’s training camp to compete at the Gold Cup.

He and his teammates will also get valuable top-tier matches in heading into the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, which head coach John Herdman said is key for a team lacking match experience.

“We’ve only had six matches in two years as a group, and a lot of those games haven’t been against top CONCACAF opposition,” Herdman stated Thursday after the team was announced. “So for me to bring a group of players together that can gain those experiences and continue in this mentality and keep building on the foundation of those last six games, that’s really my goal for this tournament.”

While Canada will be able to count on Davies’ pace and energy at the Gold Cup, it will be missing the scoring punch of another of its European-based stars.

David out to rest and recover

Jonathan David, a standout forward for French champion Lille, is being given the Gold Cup off to rest for the upcoming Ligue 1 season, as well as the final round of World Cup qualifying. David was the Golden Boot at the 2019 Gold Cup with six goals.

Herdman said the 21-year-old David was dealing with a groin injury and was on anti-inflammatory medication during Canada’s matches in the second stage of World Cup qualifying. He said the striker should be back when Canada enters stage three of qualifying in September. 

“It’s still not where he wants it to be, and given he’s got a massive year ahead, looking to retain the championship and going into Champions League, obviously qualifying Canada for the World Cup, sort of made that decision for him to take a step back and push through the recovery,” Herdman stated.

David’s 15 goals in 16 matches with the senior men’s side will be difficult to replace. However, Cyle Larin, who has 15 goals in 37 national team appearances and is coming off a 24-goal season with Turkish champion Besiktas, is among the 12 players with Gold Cup experience on the roster.

Canada, ranked 70th in the world, opens Gold Cup Group B play versus unranked Martinique on July 10 before facing a preliminary-round survivor on July 15 and the 20th-ranked Americans on July 18. All three matches will be in Kansas City. Canada reached the tournament quarterfinals in 2019 before blowing a 2-0 lead and losing 3-2 to Haiti.

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