UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Already down three starting defenders for Saturday night’s game against FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), the New York Red Bulls offense suddenly looks gimpy, too.
Forwards Thierry Henry (Achilles tendon injury) and Luke Rodgers (plantar fasciitis) made the trip to Texas, but are questionable to play, let alone start.
Henry told reporters on Thursday that his heel is bothering him again, and the French DP did not train with the team on Friday. Rodgers, who returned to the field last Saturday night for the first time in two months, was limited in practice on Friday.
Head coach Hans Backe said that Henry, who missed several games this spring with a similar Achilles injury, will be a game-day decision. According to the coach, if Henry doesn’t start, then he won’t even dress so as to keep him fresh for New York’s two fixtures next week.
Rodgers, meanwhile, had a setback after training yesterday and won’t play more than a half on Saturday if he’s healthy.
“He will be in the roster, but the problem is, when I got this message this morning, I thought he was okay because he did yesterday a full session and was flying,” Backe said. “If you force it too much, it can break up and he’s out. If he’s playing, it’s a maximum 45 minutes.”
Keel in the defensive mix
With Jan Gunnar Solli (red card suspension), Rafa Márquez (yellow card accumulation) and Roy Miller (hamstring) all out vs. FCD, the Red Bulls are calling upon their depth to bolster their backline.
Little-used center back Stephen Keel, who last saw action with the first team on Aug. 6 vs. Real Salt Lake, will need to fill the void left by Márquez, and he’s confident he’ll perform up to the standard.
“I think it’s one of those things – I’ve been around for seven years now – just always be ready,” Keel told MLSsoccer.com. “You never know what the situation with our team with call-ups, suspensions or due to injuries.”
Rost ready to return
Amid all the injuries plaguing the Red Bulls, they’ll at least have one player back at full strength.
Goalkeeper Frank Rost has recovered from a quadriceps injury that has kept him out since August and looks likely to return Saturday night. After midweek concerns from Backe about whether Rost could kick, the ‘keeper has been cleared to play.
“We have tested three practices now, it has gone well,” Backe said.
Nielsen travels with the team
Former Danish U-21 midfielder Brian Nielsen, who has battled a right knee injury and has had subsequent surgeries, looked ready to return to the field for the first time since June against Vancouver last Saturday night, but his name was crossed off the game day roster.
Last Thursday during training, he suffered another injury setback, pulling the left side of his groin. Nielsen will travel to Pizza Hut Park, but his status is in the air.
“I really don’t know. I don’t feel ready to play,” Nielsen told MLSsoccer.com, citing his groin injury as the only factor. “My knee is much better. I am not 100 percent, but I can sprint, I can shoot. I have better movement.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer