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Injured Revs champing at the bit

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - New England Revolution head coach Steve Nicol is expected to welcome back Cassio, Joe Franchino, and James Riley into the squad for Saturday night's home contest against Colorado Rapids.

Franchino is listed as questionable with his right quadriceps strain, but Riley (left hamstring) and Cassio (turf toe) are listed as probable for the encounter.

"Everyone's pretty much healthy, but Cassio, Joe, and [James] Riley need to get some time on the field," said Nicol.

It looks unlikely that Nicol will test any of the three from the start, even with two places vacated with the loss of Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston to U.S. national team duty. Jose Cancela will replace Dempsey in the center of the park, while the right wing could be taken by any number of players.

"It depends on what happens before the weekend," said Nicol. "Certainly, we're going to be taking chances with whoever we put in [to the lineup]. We don't really have a choice. We have to stick someone in, but I don't think that takes a lot of working out [for Colorado]."

The Revolution enjoyed a rigorous training session on Thursday morning. As players return from injuries, the intensity level increases.

"Everyone wants to play and declared themselves fit," said Nicol after training. "There's a line between spirited and daft."

One name that has emerged for the right wing berth is Ryan Latham. The former SMU star was selected in the second round of the MLS Supplemental Draft. He has only played in reserve and exhibition matches so far this season.

"Latham's in contention," said Nicol. "He gives us pace, two good feet, and loads of ability. Experience is the only thing lacking."

If Latham does not get the call, Nicol could either opt for Riley from the start or Pat Noonan at right midfield with Khano Smith and Taylor Twellman up top.

Nicol was adamant that those who enter into the starting 11 must tailor their efforts to their own capabilities.

"They have to play their own game," said Nicol.

The Rapids come to town suffering after trading veterans Mark Chung and Chris Henderson. Fernando Clavijo's side has only seven points from 10 matches. The return of Jean-Philippe Peguero and Jeff Cunningham has boosted the Rapids, while Mike Petke fills the center back role of the injured Pablo Mastroeni.

The visitors could face fatigue, as they will be playing their third match in eight days. Revolution defender Jay Heaps notes that the advantage may not entirely rest with the front-running home side.

"The week we played three games in eight days, we got rolling," said Heaps. "Sometimes, you get ready. Colorado will come here to fight."

Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.