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Fire Notebook: Gibbs closing in on return to lineup

Cory Gibbs

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire don’t yet know if center back Cory Gibbs will be available for Thursday’s game against D.C. United (9 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).

Gibbs, who hasn’t played since straining his left groin in the sixth minute of the Fire’s 1-1 draw against Philadelphia on Aug. 3, really tested himself in training for the first time Tuesday since sustaining his injury.

“Today he pushed himself a little bit more and we just got to see,” Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “He did the warm-up and some technical stuff and then he did some more functional stuff in the back there, so we just got to see. It’s his first day pushing it, so we’ve just got to see how he feels tomorrow, and obviously with only one day of training left it might be tough, but we’ll see.”

The Fire defense has struggled without Gibbs in the lineup, giving up six goals in the two full games that the veteran leader has missed.

Nyarko ready to go

Attacker Patrick Nyarko will be available for Thursday’s game after being forced out of the second half of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at New York with an illness.

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“He wasn’t feeling well,” Klopas said of Nyarko. “When he came in at halftime, he told me he was kind of sick from Friday. He just seemed like he wasn’t in the game and feeling sick at halftime. We tried to make it work in the second half but I saw that he was out of it and wanted to come out … but he’ll be OK for Thursday.”

Nyarko started Saturday’s game at forward, looking good and assisting on Dominic Oduro’s first-half strike before being dropped to right mid in the second half.

Gargan reacts to debut

Right back Dan Gargan made his Fire debut on Saturday, going the full 90 at right back at Red Bull Arena. Gargan, who was traded to the Fire from Toronto FC on July 28, played well in his first appearance with Chicago, doing a nice job defending New York’s dynamic attack despite not getting a ton of help.

Gargan’s last start was on July 9, when he played the entirety of Toronto’s 2-0 loss at Houston.

“It felt good to be a part of the 11,” Gargan told MLSsoccer.com. “I thought I did OK. I’m not where I want to be fitness wise — it’s been a few weeks since I’ve played a 90 — but it’s always nice to get through it. I was cramping up a little bit in my calf from a knock I took earlier in the week, but other than that, I felt good.

“I think the next few games, I’ll hopefully be able to find my spot going forward a bit more and getting involved in the attack,” he added, "and hopefully we can tighten this backline up to give our forwards and midfielders an opportunity to win the game for us.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.