Stevie Astwood is gunning for goals tonight. * James Whittaker
Stevie Astwood is gunning for goals tonight. * James Whittaker
The 23-men who will form Bermuda's first professional football squad have been named.

Keith Jennings is the only major omission on a glittering list of national team stars led by Damon Ming and Stevie Astwood, who were confirmed as the Bermuda Hogges' two full-time professionals.

Devonshire Cougars skipper Kwame Steede, North Village striker Ralph Bean jnr and Shaun Goater himself are among the other big name players included in the squad. Former Coventry City striker Kyle Lightbourne will also suit up as player-coach, though he and Goater are likely to be emergency options only.

Ming and Astwood have been signed on two-year deals that prevent them from taking any other work during the course of the United Soccer League season or from playing in the local Premier Division during the off-season. Goalkeeper Nigel Burgess is expected to sign a similar contract shortly.

The rest of the squad have been contracted on pay-as-you-play deals, will keep their regular jobs and continue to play for their club sides in the winter.

The Hogges kick-off the season next Friday night against the Harrisburg City Islanders at the National Sports Centre.

Paul Scope, who runs the new club along with Goater and Lightbourne, said that, with a few exceptions, the trip had got the squad they wanted.

"We're very happy with the squad. They're already bonding well. We've been training for a few weeks and we believe we have a very good group."

He added that he was disappointed not to have Keith Jennings on the squad but understood the midfielder's decision to opt for the Island Soccer League after he was not chosen as one of the Hogges' full-timers.

He said there were still three open slots on the roster that could be filled before the end of the season if the right players became available.