Hamstring injury forces Tim Cahill out again, will miss Wednesday's clash with Houston Dynamo

HANOVER, N.J. – A week after making his return from a hamstring injury, Tim Cahill will be back on the sidelines watching his New York Red Bulls play without him.

Cahill has been ruled out of Wednesday’s home match against the Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live) as he is not yet back to full health from a hamstring injury sustained in last month’s 1-1 draw with Chivas USA. The Australian Designated Player came off the bench and played 27 minutes for New York in last Wednesday’s 2-1 triumph over the Philadelphia Union, but he was unable to partake in any part of team training on Monday or Tuesday.

Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said Cahill, who did some light ball work and fitness drills on Tuesday morning, could be an option for Saturday’s clash with the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).

“That’s definitely a short-term goal to have him ready for Saturday,” said Petke. “However, it’s important for Tim to feel 100 percent, whereas last year he would play through anything. This year, we’re forcing him not to. It’s not fair to him; he’s a year older.

“We need to get him 100-percent healthy so he feels comfortable, and until that point comes that he’s able to do everything – sprint full, fitness-wise get around for 90 minutes – then he’s going to continue to work off the field.”

Wednesday’s match will mark the third game Cahill misses this season because of the hamstring problem, and who replaces him in the Red Bulls’ lineup has been further complicated by a fever to Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The English striker was absent from Tuesday’s training session because of illness, and his status against the Dynamo is now a bit uncertain, meaning that Peguy Luyindula might be forced to play up top rather than in central midfield for Cahill. Andre Akpan is not an option at forward as he is recovering from a hamstring injury of his own.

 “We made a decision to tell [Wright-Phillips] to stay home in case it is something [because] we don’t want anybody else getting sick,” said Petke. “But the day before the game it’s not very strenuous, so it’s not like he’s losing fitness. He knows exactly what’s expected of him if he is healthy and is put up there. We’ll have a better understanding later this afternoon.”

If Luyindula is needed next to Thierry Henry at the top of New York’s attack, Petke would have to turn to one of Eric Alexander, Michael Bustamante or the recently-recovered Ian Christian at central midfield.

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