HARRISON, N.J. – Things are a little more settled for the Red Bulls at the forward position.
Two weeks ago head coach Hans Backe admitted he was uncertain about who would comprise his strike force, but it seems that captain Thierry Henry is fit and certain to start the season opener on Saturday. However, injuries have derailed several of his potential strike partners.
There is good news on that front, though, as Juan Agudelo, who suffered a “soft” groin injury during the team’s preseason training in Florida last month, is back and training with the team.
Agudelo first suffered a groin injury while with the national team in January, and it has plagued him since. The injury limited the teenage striker to just fitness training for portions of last week.
“Juan is back here and training,” Backe told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “He will be available on Saturday for us and he’s fit.”
[inline_node:303215]Backe mentioned that English forward Luke Rodgers, signed mid-January from English League One side Notts County, is finally being integrated into the squad. Rodgers, who had both knee and foot injuries, had failed to join the Red Bulls on the field in Florida as Backe had originally hoped. But in Arizona the coach has seen progress from the speedy forward.
“He has done a couple sessions now and he’s looking better and better,” Backe said. “I am pleased with how he’s come along so far.”
The return to health of Agudelo and Rodgers means that personnel moves may not be forthcoming.
Two weeks ago, Backe told the media that he was looking for a forward to add depth to the squad. With Ghanaian target striker Salou Ibrahim apparently out of Backe’s plans and Agudelo and Rodgers battling injuries at the time, Backe was hopeful of bringing in another forward to a depleted group of strikers that was relying on winger Dane Richards for goals. At this point, however, Backe is now longer looking.
“I don’t think we have that salary cap space available right now,” Backe said. “So right now, it is Thierry, Juan and Dane up top. That’s what we’ll go with right now.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer