Cavalry FC’s Wheeldon Jr. in England, Scotland: ‘I’m seeing what gold I can find’

TORONTO — With his adversaries probing South America, the Caribbean and the United States for players to fit alongside a solid billing of domestic talent, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is busy “trawling” Scotland and England to compliment the Canadians he’ll enlist in 2019.

“I’m seeing what gold I can find,” Cavalry FC’s head coach told amid a week-long overseas trip to cultivate relationships and, potentially, find players who fit within the club culture he’s building in Calgary.

“I’ve had a good handle on the domestic market, a really good handle looking at Canadian content,” Wheeldon Jr. added. “But now it’s about looking at which imports could come in — some impact players.”

With the CPL-U SPORTS Draft wrapped and inaugural signings nearing completion, CFC’s bench boss is exploring the next phase of roster building – the international market.

“We’ll see what fruit it will bear,” Wheeldon Jr. told before taking in an under-23 contest between Chelsea and Tottenham.

With plans to mine Scotland for players and opportunities in the coming days, Wheeldon Jr. said his exhaustive fixture list has also included visits to clubs in League Two, League One, the Championship and Premier League, where reciprocal loan options have been part of the discussions he’s entertained ahead of the CPL’s inaugural season.

“We’re already looking ahead to the offseason next year,” Wheeldon Jr. explained. “Offseasons can be long for a footballer.

“There are also loan opportunities for (U.K.) players who aren’t in their first teams over here to join us in the shoulder season.”

It’s part of the creative roster-building process multiple CPL coaches are exploring before the league kicks off in April 2019.

Earlier this month, Valour FC coach Rob Gale mentioned his Winnipeg-based club is establishing loan opportunities with a club currently playing in a top European league.

“There are different ways to skin a cat,” Wheeldon Jr. offered. “We’re talking about a few different ones.”

The face-to-face interactions he’s having in lands teeming with talent is allowing him to better understand which organizations and prospective players fit within the setup Cavalry FC is cultivating out west.

“The reality of professional football is we need to make sure we’re getting the right people on board,” he said.

“When I had the opportunity to put this team together I wanted players I was familiar with or could receive personal references about — good characters who are quality players.”

They’re players who desire something beyond the immediate success CFC will target under Wheeldon Jr. next year; guys who understand the magnitude of the project.

“People have started to hear about the CPL,” Wheeldon Jr. finished. “When you tell them we haven’t had our own league and this is our opportunity and about the 2026 World Cup, it all aligns and makes sense.

“It has been an educational process. I tell them about our club and Spruce Meadows and about the strength of the league and the partners. It makes for a good story. With each stop I make, I promote the brand a bit more.”