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Miller: Still a chance for Hutchinson to join Canadian team at the Gold Cup

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Canadian national-team coach Colin Miller hasn’t quite closed the door on midfielder Atiba Hutchinson playing for his country at the upcoming Gold Cup.

Miller said Thursday that the country’s top midfielder could still be added to the roster — but two major things would need to fall into place. First, Hutchinson, who is unattached and looking to make a big move after a great run with PSV Eindhoven, would need to have his pro status settled. And, second, Canada would need to make it to the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup.

Miller said that if Hutchinson declares himself available, Canada can take advantage of a change to the Gold Cup rules that was introduced by CONCACAF in time for this year’s tournament. In this Gold Cup, countries aren’t married to their 23-man rosters for the entire tournament. After the group stage, the surviving national associations can re-declare their 23-man rosters. Those do not have to be identical to the rosters submitted for the group stage.

“I can make up to four changes, provided all of the changes come from the initial 35-man roster submitted by the CSA,” said Miller. “And I wouldn’t hesitate to add Atiba if he was able to go. He was just gutted when he had to say no, and I would bring him back in a heartbeat.”

So, if Canada can survive a group that includes Panama and Mexico, and Hutchinson becomes a settled player, the option is there.

Both Hutchinson and central defender Andre Hainault had to say no to Canada’s Gold Cup invites because both are unattached and could risk their European professional prospects by reporting to the Canadian side.

As well, the four changes allowed by CONCACAF would allow the Canadian Soccer Association flexibility if any of the unattached players currently on the roster would get invites for pro trials and might have to leave. Miller doesn’t expect that to happen — but the new roster rule does give coaches some insurance policies.

Canada will announce the 23rd member of its roster on Friday — it is expected to be San Jose defender Nana Attakora. But neither Miller nor the CSA could give final confirmation.

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