Jackson integral to plans, insists Canada manager
Norwich City striker Simeon Jackson has been urged to use the World Cup stage to force his way into the Canaries' Premier League line up – by Canadian international boss Stephen Hart.
Hart was forced to defend Jackson's inclusion in the squad for upcoming qualifiers against St Lucia on Friday and Puerto Rico next Tuesday after limited chances to impress during City's early league campaign.
The 24-year-old played the last 15 minutes of Norwich's weekend Premier League defeat at Man United following his latest call up – the striker's first top flight action since a brief cameo against Stoke last month. Hart, however, insists Jackson remains an integral part of Canada's bid to reach Brazil in 2014.
'It's difficult because Norwich is not going to be in action, so I thought if I bring him in and keep showing some confidence in him, maybe the club will see he does well in our games and give him a bit of playing time,' said Hart.
'It's no secret that on the right side of our field we're still working out how to get the best balance – and at the moment I see Jackson as one of the best options. It's one of those situations that I might sound contradictory, but when you need someone for a position, you've got to go with what you think is best.'
The former Rushden and Gillingham striker insisted recently he was prepared to wait for a Premier League chance - although James Vaughan's long term knee injury blow could now push him up the pecking order at Carrow Road.
'We are in the Premier League and there is competition for places. We have signed a few new strikers and it is going to take some time,' Jackson said during Canada's previous World Cup double header. 'At the minute I am just waiting for my chance and when my chance comes I am going to have to take it – but there is nothing new there.'
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The Jamaican-born front runner scored in the 3-0 away win over Puerto Rico which maintained his country's 100 per cent start to the campaign following a 4-1 home win over St Lucia. Jackson, along with Preston's Iain Hume and Burnley's David Edgar, are the only British-based players in Hart's squad as Canada look to take a major step towards qualifying for phase three of the CONCACAF World Cup series.
Hart believes he has a group capable of emulating the only other Canadian side to qualify for the final stages of a World Cup in Mexico back in 1986.
The Canucks' boss is now appealing for fans to turn out in force for Tuesday's home return against Puerto Rico after last month's qualifier against St Lucia attracted a crowd of 11,500 in Toronto.
'There is a certain apathy around the national team and the international sport in general in Canada,' said Hart.
'It generates a lot of excitement for a lot of other countries, but in the games that you are supposed to win, I think it (apathy) is expected really.
'We've played some big teams. Even when we play at home, we have not necessarily throughout history had a massive sort of support.
'If it means that after these games, and if we have a good run people start to see some interest in the next set of games and start coming out, then all well and good. For me and the team, we just want to do the business and make people proud of us.'