BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After turning heads during an impressive preseason trial with the Chicago Fire, Tottenham Hotspur prospect Grant Ward could finally be set to show what he can do in MLS.
The 19-year-old midfielder underwent surgery in March to repair a broken metatarsal in his right foot, an injury that initially derailed his link-up with the Fire after scoring two goals in two games while on trial in February. And after arriving back in Chicago on May 11, Ward is enjoying his first full-contact training this week and believes he’s ready for inclusion in the Fire’s starting XI.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time to make sure that I’m ready,” Ward said after an open training session at Toyota Park on Thursday. “And if I’m ready, then maybe I can be involved. I feel ready, and I feel like I could play.”
Fire head coach Frank Yallop revealed he could be without a number of key players for Saturday’s game at the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live), with Mike Magee (tight calf), Bakary Soumare (calf), Alex (hamstring) and Patrick Nyarko (right knee) all sitting out practice on Thursday. While he expects Magee to shrug off the tightness, Nyarko’s injury is of greater concern and may open the door for Ward to see some game time sooner than expected.
“He might be on the bench,” Yallop said of his latest addition. “I obviously want to get Grant back playing with us, like he was in preseason. He has looked good, and although he’s only had a couple of days of full practice, he was doing a lot at Tottenham before he came over. I just didn’t want to risk him right away with our group.”
For now, the pacey winger, who is comfortable on either flank, is concentrating on improving his fitness and giving Yallop food for thought in an area where he already has the likes of Harry Shipp, Nyarko and the fit-again Dilly Duka to call on.
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“We’re kind of in the middle of our season and banging around quite hard, so I kept him out of it a little bit last week,” Yallop said. “He looks sharp, he looks ready and I spoke to him this morning and he’s anxious to get going, so that’s good.”
Although he wasn’t overly familiar with the game in North America before forging a link with the Fire, Ward has been impressed by what he has seen so far.
“I’ve been watching as much of the Fire and MLS as I can,” he said. “The players here are good, the league is a good standard, there’s a lot of good players. And players from the Premier League have come over, so it can only get better.”