UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Thierry Henry’s status is still uncertain for New York's Eastern Conference semifinal second leg against San Jose on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/Deportes). But the Red Bulls did receive some good news on Tuesday: Forward Salou Ibrahim and central midfielder Tony Tchani both participated in training and appear poised for inclusion in the starting XI against the Quakes.
None of those three players made the trip to San Jose for the first leg at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday. Backe is most optimistic about the return of Tchani, who suffered a slight hamstring injury in the middle of last week.
“I think 100 percent, Tony will be back,” Backe said.
[inline_node:305111]Without Tchani in the lineup, Backe partnered Rafa Márquez with Joel Lindpere in the center of the New York midfield, sliding Mehdi Ballouchy to a wide left position.
The return of Ibrahim would give forward Juan Pablo Angel a veteran strike partner for Thursday’s match. In San Jose, Backe started rookie Juan Agudelo – who was making just his third appearance in league play and his first ever MLS start – up top with Ángel.
Backe listed Ibrahim as currently “85 to 90 percent” in terms of health.
“Salou is a question mark,” Backe said of the three injured players. "[I will] make a decision tomorrow after training just to see how they develop."
One player whom Backe is not concerned about is Lindpere. The Estonian international, who scored the team’s lone goal on Saturday night, was playing through a groin injury suffered 10 days ago in training. A team spokesman said Lindepere has an adductor injury and abdominal tendonosis on his left side. The injury is similar to a sports hernia.
Lindpere has been undergoing treatment for the injury. He is familiar with this situation before, having had surgical procedures in 2000 and 2009 for similar injuries. Both were on his right side.
“Lindpere is no problem,” Backe said, before joking that, “Estonians complain a lot. When it’s time for games, they play, so he will be in.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012