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TFC Notebook: Winter faces tough lineup issues

TFC head coach Aron Winter

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TORONTO – Toronto FC have an effectively meaningless league game in Philadelphia on Saturday, then a crucial CONCACAF Champions League match on Oct. 18.

The question is how the club will approach the game against the Union with the league playoffs out of reach, but their CCL hopes very much intact.

One approach would be to rest certain players against Philadelphia to have them fresh for next week’s game against FC Dallas in their final CCL Group C match, where a win would put them through to the quarterfinals.

“If you’re going to think that you’re going to save and spare a lot of players in the game in Philadelphia, it could also be negative for the game after,” said head coach Aron Winter, whose TFC squad hasn't played since a 1-1 tie against New York on Oct. 1. “I want to have a good feeling for the whole team ... because most of the players haven’t played for two or three weeks, only training. That’s not good to get the feeling back.

“Of course, I always want to play with the strongest team, but in my mind, I’m always thinking if during the game it is possible to take some players off, then I’m going to do it for sure.”

The three Toronto players who have seen recent action are midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield and defender Ashtone Morgan, who were with Canada’s national team for two recent World Cup qualifying games.

De Guzman played 90 minutes in each game, Dunfield played 73 and 90 minutes, and Morgan played in the first game for 19 minutes.

“Of course you have to be smart what you’re going to do,” Winter said. “But it’s not like I’m going to rest [players] to be only focused on the game for Tuesday.”

Eckersley out, Frings available

Defender Richard Eckersley (hamstring) did not train Thursday and won’t play Saturday, but has not been officially ruled out for the team’s CCL match.

Midfielder Torsten Frings, meanwhile, watched Thursday’s training from the seats but will be available for the upcoming games.