TORONTO – With Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen making statements last week that suggested Richard Eckersley’s time in Toronto could be coming to an end, the gritty right back is trying to keep his head down to avoid making waves.
Eckersley has a guaranteed contract for the 2014 campaign. However, in light of Nelsen’s comments, the 24-year-old fullback now has to deal with the inevitable questions about his future in Toronto.
“You would have to ask the coach obviously about what he is planning for next season and whether I will be here or whether I won’t be here,” Eckersley told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve got three games to go and I’m not going to say anything now. I’m going to try and get back into the team before the season ends. I want to finish the season strong going into the offseason, for whatever challenge lies ahead.”
“I can’t really give too much away at the minute because there are still games to play,” Eckersley added. “My main objective now is to train hard and work for the coach and try to get back into the team.”
An automatic starter when healthy for Toronto FC since joining the club back in 2011, Eckersley has not played in TFC’s last three matches. Mark Bloom, who joined the team on loan from the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks in the summer, has taken Eckersley's place in Nelsen’s starting XI.
When asked if he had received any explanation for being dropped from Toronto’s starting lineup, Eckersley admitted that he had been given a somewhat perplexing one.
“I was injured apparently, but I was okay,” Eckersley said. “I had a bit of a knock and it was just a dead leg. I can’t tell you how many times I have played on a dead leg before.”
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Regardless of his current predicament, the defender was quick to praise the play of the man who has replaced him in TFC’s last three fixtures.
“Bloomie came in and did really well,” Eckersley added. “I take my hat off to him. He deserves to start. Like I said, I have to work to get back into the lineup.”
With his future now up in the air, the Worsley, England, native admitted that he would very much like to be wearing a Toronto kit again next year.
“I do want to be here,” Eckersley said. “This is my club at the moment. I love the fans and the way that they support the team. I also love the players here. So I do want to be here. Whether that happens or not, I just want to finish the season strong.
“I have absolutely loved my time here. It is just a shame that the last two-and-a-half years have been a struggle with regards to results.”