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Speaking from the Hart

Huh? Huh? you see what i did there?  Anyway, Canadian Men's National Team Coach Stephen Hart took some time to speak to the assembled media via conference call from St. Kitts last night, prior to Canada's final two matches of this round of World Cup Qualification.

Once again with thanks To Partially Obstructed View's James Grossi, here's a rundown of what was discussed:

The squad is in an upbeat mood, having had a few good training sessions under their belt.

On the pitch - Some concerns about the quality of the pitch; it is a grass field, but a rather bumpy one and is unlikely to be rolled before the match takes place later this evening. Due to the recent rain it will either be very hard, if allowed to dry out, or moist should the rains remain. The ball is not rolling true, and to adapt in practice they have been working on playing a shorter game, with quicker, tighter passing.

On Nana Attakora - He's fitting in nicely and training well.

On wholesale changes should Canada secure the required point in the first match - The squad and staff are not getting ahead of themselves.

 On the call-up of Matt Stinson - It emerged that Hart's interest in Stinson was due largely to his performances at right-back. He did well shutting down that flank in his couple of matches there with Toronto FC. Hart had some discussions with Aron Winter about the player and he liked what he saw and heard. He had an injury that was slow in healing and was not able to attend the camp.

On their opponents - They will be a challenge; they're more physical than the other teams in the group, with lots of speed, especially on the flanks and up front. Canada expects them to seize opportunities to counterattack, and have spent some time practicing that eventuality in preparation for the matches.

On who would wear the captain's armband - Mr. Hart stated that Dwayne De Rosario would be captain.

On Patrice Bernier being back in the fold - Bernier is always one who is willing to accept the call, in addition to that attitude he's great to have around, both on the pitch and in the camp. He's another experienced head, which will come in handy in these crucial matches. Coach Hart spoke to his club's coaching staff and was happy with his recent performances and mindset. He will bring some much needed leadership to a younger than usual squad.

On Ashtone Morgan - Morgan's done well, but just needs to relax and play his usual game. Hart doesn't expect breakthrough performances or anything to special, just a solid match like he has shown with Toronto. There is a good chance - if possible - he will get some time on the field this international break.

On the backline - Hart mentioned they have been considering moving Mike Klukowski into a centre-back role and allowing Adam Straith to shift out to the right and that he'd like to see how that experiment played out, again if possible.

It was a brief conference call, and Coach Hart seemed tired at the time - perhaps he had a long day, and was eager to return to dinner with the squad and his preparations. The call was postponed due to technical difficulties from 1 pm EST to 5:30pm EST.