UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – When Brian Nielsen signed with the Red Bulls last spring, the former Danish U-21 international was tabbed as the left-sided player that New York needed to stretch the midfield and balance the attack.
However, after Nielsen showed flashes of good touch with some dangerous speed down the flank, a debilitating knee injury shelved him from late spring until now.
For the past six months, Nielsen has been relegated to mainly fitness work and knee rehabilitation, only stopping to have offseason surgery on his knee. He’s back to running again though he admittted he isn’t quite ready to sprint.
It has been a frustrating 10 months for Nielsen, who until this injury had never missed more than a month of play, though he's staying positive.
“I feel good,” Nielsen told reporters on Monday. “I think I’m back on the pitch training with the team two months from now.”
[inline_node:303410]While in Mexico for preseason training two weeks ago, Nielsen began training with the ball even though it wasn’t officially in drills with the team. He said that he is able to cross and strike the ball with some confidence, albeit with his left leg only.
Feeling better and stronger each day, Nielsen hasn’t spoken yet with head coach Hans Backe to see how he figures into the team’s roster.
With a full slate of players in camp and the team poised to sign Finnish international Teemu Tainio — not to mention Backe’s admitted interest in acquiring another midfielder from Europe — Nielsen could be the odd man out.
“I really haven’t talked to him about it,” Nielsen said. “He will talk to me when I’m back with the team.”
Backe admitted on Monday that he is leaving the door open for Nielsen’s return and that he wants to see last spring’s signing on the field soon.
“He still has a chance,” Backe said of Nielsen making the roster. “We’ll see. He’s not a heavy guy who needs a lot of training to get in shape.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer
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