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Jun 8, 2009

Barnes set to swap Jamaica for Tranmere

Former Liverpool and England player John Barnes is expected to be appointed as League One side Tranmere Rovers' new boss after being told that his seven-month contract as coach of the Jamaican national team will not be renewed.

The 45-year-old, who has been in charge of the Caribbean side since November last year, has been eager to return to the domestic UK game and last month applied for the Port Vale job, but that position went to Micky Adams.

It now appears he will be reunited with former Liverpool team-mate and ex-Tranmere player Jason McAteer, who is youth coach at Prenton Park. Ronnie Moore was sacked as their manager on Friday.

Barnes' only coaching experience in the UK was his ill-fated and infamous spell in charge of Celtic in 1999-2000, which ended after a humiliating Scottish Cup defeat to minnows Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

However, by contrast Jamaica have performed well under Barnes and enjoyed five wins and four draws during his tenure.

They already faced elimination from the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying process when he took charge, but victories over Mexico, Honduras and Canada took Barnes' Jamaica to the cusp of reaching the next round of qualifiers only for Mexico to edge them out on goal difference.

Sunday's 3-2 win over Panama was Barnes' last match in charge and he was replaced on Monday by Theodore Whitmore who will lead Jamaica in next month's Gold Cup where they will face Canada, Costa Rica and El Salvador in the group stages.

''Yes, I am disappointed that I would not be going to the Gold Cup because I could have started the contract (with Tranmere) after the Gold Cup,'' Barnes said. ''But I fully accept and understand the JFF decision that they will appoint Theodore, as of now, to give him a chance to experience football at the highest level.

''I have to thank the JFF for giving me an opportunity in doing something I love. It is something I wanted to get involved with for a long time and they gave me that opportunity.''

Tranmere are hoping the appointment of Barnes will lead to a surge in interest from the fans with the club suffering a 19% drop in attendances over recent seasons.

Last season, Rovers just missed out on the play-offs after conceding a late equaliser at Scunthorpe on the final day of the season, which meant The Iron claimed the final spot and went on to beat Millwall in the final at Wembley.

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