Michael Nanchoff
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Whitecaps' Nanchoff eager for healthy return in 2012

Stay healthy and help the Vancouver Whitecaps make a push for the playoffs. It’s that simple for Michael Nanchoff, who missed extended periods of the Whitecaps’ debut season in 2011 with a groin injury.

But if the “big rubber band” has anything to say about it, Nanchoff will see much more of the field in 2012.

Innovative physiotherapist Rick Celebrini, who joined the Whitecaps in July, put together a detailed offseason fitness plan for Nanchoff with the aim of injury prevention, using a device called the Core X.

“[The Core X] is some kind of crazy device which provides a lot of resistance,” Nanchoff told MLSsoccer.com by phone from North Royalton, Ohio, on Tuesday. “It gives tension to your left wrist, your right wrist and both your thighs. You can do all sorts of exercises and different movements with it.

“A lot of it comes down to a lot of core work, so you’re completely balanced and really strong, so I think that has helped a great deal.”

Despite his selection at eighth overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, the 23-year-old Nanchoff made only one start as part of his five appearances for the ‘Caps in 2011, in large part due to a groin injury suffered in his final college season with Akron.

Now, he’s targeting a first-team spot under new coach Martin Rennie, who watched him as a high school player in Cleveland half a decade ago when the Scotsman was coaching the Cleveland City Stars.

“I really rate Michael – he loves playing soccer, he’s got great determination and excellent ability on the ball,” Rennie said. “Sometimes guys who have good skill on the ball aren’t quite so good when they don’t have the ball, but Michael is. He was unfortunate with injuries at the beginning of last season, but if he can stay healthy, I think he can be a good player for us.”

Although Nanchoff can play as a winger on either flank, Rennie sees him primarily as a central attacking midfielder.

“Individually, it’s about fighting for that spot as much as possible and staying in there the entire season,” Nanchoff said. “You don’t want to be bouncing around and coming in and coming out. So I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all the guys, but I’m definitely looking forward to that competitive environment again.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.

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