The national coach of the Uganda Cranes, Johnny McKinstry, has moved to encourage local based players that they are still part of his plans.

McKinstry named a 20-man squad of only foreign-based players to prepare for next month’s 2022 Afcon qualifying ties against South Sudan.

The same circular also mentioned that local-based players would be added to make the final squad of 25.

The move did not appease some quarters, who claimed the StarTimes Uganda Premier League (SUPL) players were being ignored in the wider scheme of things.

Appearing on KFM Radio sports show on Saturday, McKinstry explained his move.

“When you look at it, all of our foreign-based players are actively playing since their seasons are in session,” said McKinstry.

“But our players here have not played football in over eight months because of the pandemic. So you cannot compare fitness levels.

“However, we shall have a look at them and assess their fitness levels before we complete the full squad.”

McKinstry did not beat about the bush about foreign-based players making it difficult for home-based stars to make it to the national team, because even the local based players are playing their best to move elsewhere.

But he had a word of great encouragement to the home based players.

“Local based players will still get the chances and what I can tell them is look, if you get a chance to step onto that pitch, leave your heart out there.”

Uganda could qualify for their third successive Afcon finals if the Cranes beat South Sudan at home and away next month.

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