Whitecaps' Salgado returns to training, eyes playing time

Omar Salgado

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BURNABY, B.C. – Omar Salgado is close to a return.

After three months on the sidelines, the Vancouver Whitecaps youngster has resumed full training this week after fracturing his foot during a 4-2 loss to Uruguay while playing for the United States U-20 team in early June.

“The injury is 100 percent now,” Salgado told reporters at Swangard Stadium after a training session on Tuesday. “I’m just trying to get back fitness-wise, and I know it’s going to take a little bit, but hopefully a week or two, and I’ll be back 100 percent.”

The 19-year-old played a key role in the early part of the season, making a number of impressive displays since head coach Martin Rennie’s decision to use him as a winger rather than as an out-and-out striker.

Perhaps the most memorable of those occasions came in a Man of the Match performance at FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals, as he played in a part in both of his side’s goals in a 2-0 win.

“I’m pleased with how he’s making progress,” Rennie said on Tuesday. “It’s really nice to have him back out there. He trained yesterday and looked very good, and again today he did well, so maybe he’s a little closer than I first thought.”

On Tuesday, Rennie ruled Salgado out of playing a part in Saturday’s crucial road match against FC Dallas, but the El Paso native, for his part, is naturally making himself available to play in his home state if his coach has a change of heart.

“I’m still a little unfit,” Salgado said. “But if I’m in the 18 or whatever, I think I can come off the bench and make a difference.”

Salgado admits it’s been tough watching the team’s recent struggles from the sidelines – but he’s looking ahead to what he’ll soon be able to contribute.

“It’s frustrating to think of that,” Salgado said. “But I’d rather think positive. I think you know, it happened, and now it’s about getting back in the field in two, three weeks.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.