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TFC's Cann coming back strong from July ACL surgery

TORONTO – Toronto FC’s central defense was supposed to be a strong point in 2011. But injuries wrecked that notion, leaving the Reds to spend most of the year improvising.

But they got some good news on Friday: Adrian Cann is coming back strong from season-ending surgery on his right knee.

“Adrian Cann is a super-fit guy, his progress has been quite remarkable,” TFC director of player development Paul Mariner told this week. “I’m surprised that he’s so far along.”

Cann, the rock upon which the TFC defense was supposed to be built, suffered a torn ACL during training on May 31 and had surgery in July.

Toronto missed the 31-year-old center back, who was limited to 12 games – all starts – in his second season with the club. Lack of depth at central defense ended up being a problem all season for the Reds. The Canadian international could be ready to take part in the team’s preseason training that begins Jan. 23.

“Adrian may be available, if not by the start of preseason, certainly close to it,” Mariner said. “Adrian is a very driven person. He prides himself in his fitness, he prides himself in being robust. He’s worked incredibly hard with the doctors and the medical team to really get further along. It’s quite remarkable.”

Cann was left unprotected in the Expansion Draft for the Montreal Impact, a calculated gamble that the new team would not want to take a chance on a player returning from knee surgery. It paid, and now Mariner says that Toronto have picked up his option for 2012.

“We missed him in central defense,” he said.

Cann said on Twitter on Friday that he was returning from Los Angeles, where he had been on his rehabilitation for a month.

“Heading home from a successful rehabilitation in LA,” Cann tweeted. “Thank you Athlete's Performance for a helping hand for paving the road to my recovery!”

Dicoy Williams, meanwhile, who was Cann’s partner in central defense, also suffered a torn ACL in his right knee while playing for Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup early in June. He hasn’t been as fortunate in his recovery.

“The player that is causing us a little bit of concern is Dicoy Williams,” Mariner said. “He doesn’t seem to be progressing as quickly.”

Williams was limited to eight games for Toronto, seven of them starts.