Veteran Albright inching closer to recovery

Red Bulls defender trained last week, says he's "80 percent"

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – An already deep New York Red Bulls back line could be about to get a bit deeper with the return of veteran Chris Albright.

The former LA Galaxy stalwart – who joined the Red Bulls in January 2010 and appeared in 18 matches last season – returned to the field last week for training and this week has accelerated his work with the ball.

After more than a month of rehabilitation on a similar left knee injury that shelved him for much of the 2008 season with LA, Albright is happy to be closing in on a return.

“In a lot of ways, I feel even better than last year then when it was ‘healthy,’” Albright told MLSsoccer.com. “What the surgery did [this time] was really clear everything out.”

He’s still a couple weeks away from being ready for selection to the game day roster and Albright hates speculating on his health, but said, “If you’d like to put a percentage on it, we can say 80 percent.”

“I’ve been on the ball at least a week,” Albright said. “Since the surgery was done, I’ve really been concentrating on strength and stability before pushing to things unbalanced, like on the field. When you’re in the game, you never know what will come your way so I’ve been working to allow my body to handle all that.”

In Albright’s absence, Jan Gunnar Solli has started all three matches for the Red Bulls and has shown relatively well at right back. Plus, Finnish international Teemu Tainio and veteran defender Carlos Mendes can all play the position with little acclimation.

“There’s no reason to rush back,” Albright said. “If this was September or October, or the playoffs even, it might be different. Right now I want to get healthy and get fit and contribute when I fully can help this team. Anything else and I’d not just be hurting myself but my teammates, too.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer