MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact believe this Saturday’s game against the New England Revolution is “a playoff game before the playoffs,” so it's a good thing there’s welcome news on the injury front.
While uncertainties still surround the fitness of Alessandro Nesta (adductor), Patrice Bernier (hip) and Marco Di Vaio (ankle), midfielder Hernan Bernardello declared himself fully fit on Tuesday morning.
- READ: Montreal Impact coach Marco Schallibaum admits prior injury hobbled Marco Di Vaio in loss to Houston
Signed on July 23, the Impact’s second-ever Designated Player got injured during his fourth career MLS game, on Aug. 31 in Philadelphia, when Union midfielder Danny Cruz inadvertedly stepped on his left ankle. Bernardello’s comeback occurs according to schedule, as he was expected to miss four to six weeks.
“I feel good,” Bernardello said on Tuesday through an interpreter. “I was able to work on healing my ankle this past month that I’ve been injured, and it’s now up to the coach [for Saturday].”
Bernardello enjoyed a stellar start in Montreal, delivering an assist for Hassoun Camara 16 minutes into his debut, a 1-0 home win over San Jose Earthquakes in the CONCACAF Champions League. More encouraging outings followed, including a 5-0 hammering of Houston Dynamo at Stade Saputo, which made sustaining the knock all the more dispiriting for Bernardello.
“I’d just arrived, I had four, five games where I felt good physically, so it hurt not only physically, but mentally as well,” Bernardello said. “It’s a shame, but it’s behind me now and I’m glad to be back with the team.”
And Bernardello might not be the only returning name on the team sheet. Nesta is feeling “much better” this week after missing the past two MLS games, according to head coach Marco Schällibaum – who nevertheless insisted that the staff must still manage the Italian defender’s fitness going into this weekend.
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Like Nesta, Bernier and Di Vaio trained lightly on the sidelines on Tuesday. Bernier was a late scratch off the substitutes’ bench last Friday while Di Vaio limped off midway through the second half, and Schällibaum is hopeful that, in both cases, time will be on his team’s side.
“[Bernier and Di Vaio] both couldn’t play today, but we still have time until Saturday,” Schällibaum told reporters. “It’s pretty positive for both of them. Hernan’s coming back as well, and we’ve always said that he’s an important player to us. He has this hunger to win. It’s still unclear today who will play on Saturday, but we still have four days to do whatever we can so they’re on the field.”