The Houston Dynamo forward has been named to Jamaica's squad for the upcoming tournament in Chile, where they face group games against Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Houston Dynamo forward Giles Barnes has told MLSSoccer.com of his excitement at the prospect of facing off against the likes of Lionel Messi and Edinson Cavani with Jamaica at the upcoming Copa America.
Barnes, 26, has revitalised his career since making the jump to MLS in August 2012, shedding his sick note label to miss just two games over the past three seasons, while adding 26 goals after moving from the midfield into a more advanced role.
In the meantime, the former England Under-19 starlet has also switched international allegiances to Jamaica, who he is eligible for through his grandparents, and earned his first two caps in a set of March friendlies against Venezuela and Cuba.
Having made an immediate impression with a debut goal and assist against the former, the ex-Derby County prospect is now set to be an important part of a big summer for the Reggae Boyz, which sees them take part in the Copa America and then Gold Cup.
Drawn in a group with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay for the first tournament, which kicks off in Chile next week, the MLS star is set to jet off to join his teammates after being confirmed in the squad and is relishing the chance to come up against some of the game’s top stars.
“It’s probably the second biggest tournament in the world,” said Barnes. “It’s something I grew up watching as a kid, the Copa America, and it’s going to be a fantastic experience for me and family who will be there.”
Barnes himself is going into the Copa America off an impressive run of form with Houston, having netted six times in 13 games this season, and believes he can help underdogs Jamaica upset the likes of Messi’s Argentina over the coming weeks.
“At the end of the day I’ve always believed in my ability to play at any level so I’m going in full of confidence,” he added. “Obviously playing well for club and scoring for club puts you in a good place going into big tournaments.
“You’re playing against great players but at the end of the day you have nothing to fear. You’ve got to take it all in stride and it’s about coming in and trying to do what I’m doing.
“We’ve got a good squad and we think we’re going to do well. We’re going to turn up and we’ve got enough to get through to the next round so we’re pretty optimistic about it.”
Jamaica kick off their Copa America campaign against Uruguay on 13 June, before facing Paraguay and Argentina on 16 June and 20 June, respectively.