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Red Bulls' Holgersson eyeing return to lineup after layoff

Markus Holgersson and Hans Backe

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UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Markus Holgersson has just had one full training session with the New York Red Bulls since recovering from injury, but that hasn't stopped him from believing he will suit up in the club’s upcoming match.

Sidelined since June 20 with an ankle problem, Holgersson is convinced he will be ready to return to his starting spot along the Red Bulls backline when they take on the Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena on Sunday (4 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The Swedish center back partook in his first full practice on Wednesday morning, and he says the ankle he damaged in the 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps last month is 100 percent healthy now.

“I’m feeling good,” Holgersson told reporters on Wednesday. “I’ve been running for a few days and now it’s my first practice with the team today, so it feels good. We’ll have a few more practices before the game.”

Holgersson missed three matches because of his knock, and the Red Bulls conceded five goals and posted a 1-1-1 record during that stretch. For Holgersson, it was extremely difficult to helplessly watch New York from the sidelines after playing every minute of the club’s first 15 matches this season.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Holgersson. “You see the [D.C. United] game where we played so well and then we have two games that we don’t play so well and that is frustrating and you’re sitting outside and you’re nervous and you want to help them so much.”

Still, penciling Holgersson into the Red Bulls’ starting lineup for this Sunday’s clash with the potent Sounders may be a bit premature at this point. But it appears that as long as his body responds well to the remaining training sessions this week, Holgersson should resume his place in central defense, especially with Wilman Conde’s status unknown.

“He gets sore, definitely, so we’ll see now, [Thursday] after this session today,” said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. “We have to be a little bit aware of that so that we don’t just train him every day. Perhaps he just needs some treatment in between.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.