TORONTO – As midfielder Torsten Frings journeys into retirement thanks to a bum hip, the Toronto FC revolving door is expected to start moving in the other direction.
“The cavalry is coming, but it just won't arrive quite as quickly as [we] might have hoped at the beginning of the year,” club president Kevin Payne said Tuesday at the press conference to announce the retirement of the 36-year-old former German international. “I'm not surprised – we've been building this airplane as it's in flight.”
Payne said winger Hogan Ephraim is expected to join the Reds once a loan deal is completed with English Premier League club Queens Park Rangers, where Toronto’s new head coach Ryan Nelsen ended his playing career last month.
“We're in hopefully the final stages of signing him to a loan agreement with Queens Park Rangers,” Payne said. “We hope that will be concluded in the next day or two."
Two more English imports – attacking midfielder John Bostock of Tottenham Hotspur, and striker Robert Earnshaw of Cardiff City – will also be in camp.
“[Earnshaw] arrives to take a look at us and for us to take a look at him to see if that's a fit that might work,” Payne said. “It's a little too early to tell if that's going to happen.”
Payne, who took over at TFC in late November, admits that he is playing catch-up with the roster, even as the Reds prepare for their season opener on Saturday in Vancouver against the Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live in the US, TSN/RDS in Canada).
The roster that opens the season in a few days' time will likely look much different by April.
“There's a lot of stuff that has to happen in a short period of time,” he said. “We have a lot of prospects on the radar right now in camp.”
There are several players not in camp as well, including two players in Honduras and another in Argentina.
“We're working to sign potentially a young Designated Player, a forward, out of the Argentine league,” Payne said. “All of these players would be initially on loan because we'd want a chance to see them in our league before we make any long-term commitments.”
Frings, who was signed as a DP midway through the 2011 season, had his 2012 season end in August because of a hip injury that required surgery. Because of his age and the injury, the club was not sure what to expect from him in his comeback attempt.
"We were certainly looking for players in his position anyway,” Payne said. “We knew that it wasn't realistic to assume he was going to play every minute of every game anyway. There are a couple of young players we've identified in different parts of the world that we think could really do a job for us there. Now we're working on taking a look at them and hopefully getting them signed.
“It's a loss and it's a gain. It's hard to replace a guy who's played in two World Cups but now we have a DP slot, an international slot and cap money available.”