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New York Red Bulls insist injured Luis Robles will be ready, but Ryan Meara is ready just in case

HANOVER, N.J. – The Luis Robles health watch will continue through at least Friday afternoon.

The New York Red Bulls once again trained without their starting goalkeeper on Thursday morning, as Robles continues to nurse a injured left knee suffered in last Sunday’s 5-2 Supporters’ Shield-clinching victory over the Chicago Fire.

Robles watched on as his teammates trained, but he did not partake in any of the drills. The veteran goalkeeper – who is the only New York player to start every game this season – had a bag of ice wrapped around his leg to aid in the recovery of an injury that he said was only a Grade 1 sprain.

“There’s no need for him to train,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. “He took a knock, [the team doctor] is indicating he will be fine. He is already feeling much, much better and tomorrow he will be back out. Nine, 10 months into the season, two days resting him is not going to do any [harm].”

While the Red Bulls insist that the stellar Robles will be ready to suit up on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, back-up goalkeeper Ryan Meara is staying prepared just in case his number is called.

“When we go out to warm up and night before, all my preparation even if I’m on the bench is the same if I was starting,” said Meara. “If you approach it that way, you’ll always be ready.”

If Meara does get the nod this weekend, it would be somewhat of a role reversal from last year for him and Robles. The promising youngster was the impressive starter for New York for much of 2012, but a hip injury derailed his rookie season, which opened the door for Robles to ultimately claim the starting spot going into the playoffs.

Robles has not let go of the starting spot since, leaving Meara playing time in reserve matches and the U.S. Open Cup.

“It’s not a concern,” Petke said of Meara’s stretch of inactivity. “Ryan’s played phenomenal in practice. The only reason he has not seen the field is because he’s behind one of the hottest goalkeepers in the league and Ryan understands that. It’s not that he’s not on the field because of the way he played.

“He’s a phenomenal goalkeeper, he’s done well in the Reserve Games. I’m not concerned at all if he has to go.”

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