by Ryan Inniss, Crystal Palace defender on loan at Newport County
The Trinidad and Tobago gaffer reached out to me over the past two months while I had been playing at Newport County on loan from Crystal Palace. I was over the moon really because this link is obviously dated back a few years stemming from Chris Birchall finding out about my nationality when I was on loan at Port Vale. He had been telling me all about the history of the nation and the history of him playing and this sounded fantastic. It was something I was always interested in but hadn’t reached around to actually looking into it.
I had played in the England youth teams when I was younger but I knew the possibility of playing for Trinidad and Tobago was there. I was always open minded. Over the seasons that followed the interest from previous managers of Trinidad was a bit stop start for me and then I had injuries and loan spells here and there. I wasn’t playing regularly but of course the possibility remained on my mind. I was definitely over the moon when the new gaffer contacted me this time around. Now the ball has been in motion and it’s been rolling with a lot more momentum. In regards to the passport I think we’re nearly over the line. Obviously with everything going on at the moment I’ve just got to put that to the back burner realising that everyone’s health and safety comes first.
Playing for Trinidad and Tobago is something that I’m really excited about. There is a massive project on the way from what I’d gathered from the manger. I feel privileged to even be considered because even though things haven’t been great with the team in recent times, the fact is they are a country that has gone to a World Cup and have produced some great players over the years who’ve played in the Premiership. Hopefully I can feature for Trinidad and Tobago which will definitely make my family proud.
On a personal level it has also brought me and my grandad closer which is something I will cherish because that side of my family has been a little bit disjointed. My grandad has been talking to me about the history of the nation and how he grew up and things like that.
It’s something that I’ve wanted to explore but never really had the courage to do or should I say it just didn’t happen earlier. I was available for the games in Canada and I was really excited about it. I was disappointed to not getting around for those if I had been selected and then get the chance to play once my passport allowed it to happen.
The Covid period has been difficult for all footballers to take and then the added loss of the chance to link up with Trinidad and Tobago on an international call up has made it an even tougher one. I’m working hard and I’m using the exercise time we are allowed here in the UK to get some runs in and a little bit of cycling. I’m trying to vary up the runs because it can get a bit boring just running at a steady pace. So I’ve added some sharp stuff in there with some box to box pitch runs. I’m quite fortunate to have a park nearby that is regularly maintained with lines painted so I can measure out my box to box runs. I’ve tackled a few hills which have been tough but I’m enjoying it and working has hard as I can. You just have to keep on top of things because if you have a few days off then it becomes tough to get back into it. My season so far before the lock down has been somewhat turbulent. It is something I’m trying to ride out of my game in terms of discipline. I’ve had a yellow cards and a couple of red cards, one which I felt was fairly harsh but that’s the game. Definitely being around the gaffer and some of the pros in the Trinidad and Tobago team is definitely something I can learn from with more bodies, more minds and more brains to pick. The different cultures that will be culminated together hopefully can be another great part of this. The gaffer has got a wealth of experience and I’ll be looking forward to pick his brain also and he will obviously be looking to test us.
My season at Newport has also been one of my best in terms of fitness and strength.When you have had setbacks like I’ve had with multiple injuries, surgeries and then you’re all fixed and ready to go now, getting more games under your belt, it’s a real winner on a personal note. Now obviously getting through Covid-19 is our main priority but yes it was hard to take given that I was knocking back again Saturdays Tuesdays Saturdays Tuesdays, playing on a consistent basis. I obviously want to try and stay in tip top condition and resume this kind of form when we start playing again. I think my form picked up dramatically earlier this year and that rise in my work rate and performances may be in regards to the international call up, getting that recognition and speaking with the gaffer. He was telling me what he likes about my game and what he wants me to work on and maybe that drive of staying in the fold and getting into the national squad is what spurred me on. I would like to think that I have the mentality and I’ve had enough trials and tribulations to really go full steam ahead at this challenge of playing international football and representing Trinidad and Tobago.
I’m just looking forward to everyone getting through this period healthy and fit and then we can put our heads down and get the ball rolling, get to work because I for one certainly need to get back to a regular routine and do what I enjoy doing the most. I hope all of you all out there are doing good and hopefully we’ll be able to catch up some time soon and I can be part of the whole effort in Trinidad and Tobago. Stay Safe everyone
Ryan Inniss wrote this column for Pushing Limits in late April, 2020. He is a 24-year-old former England Under 16 and Under 17 international who turned professional at Crystal Palace in 2011. He joined the Crystal Palace academy at age 14 and signed his first pro contract two years later. He first spoke to former T&T midfielder Chris Birchall about playing for Trinidad and Tobago while on loan at Port Vale in 2015.
“You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up.” ―Babe Ruth