Tim Cahill, Andre Akpan healthy and available for New York Red Bulls' showdown with Columbus

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls bench will be a little deeper this weekend.

Head coach Mike Petke told reporters Friday that Tim Cahill and Andre Akpan will both on the 18-man roster that heads to Columbus to take on the Crew on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live). Both players had both been dealing with nagging hamstring injuries, but are now healthy enough to possibly see time for a Red Bulls side looking to pick up a third straight win.

Cahill came off the bench and played 27 minutes in New York’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union on April 16, but was not in uniform in this past Wednesday’s 4-0 thrashing of the Houston Dynamo. The Australian international did not go as far as saying that he suffered a setback, but added that he is “definitely” not yet ready to start.

“The main thing is you make calculated decisions during the season,” Cahill, who has missed three games this season, told reporters at Red Bull Arena. “I think that was a good, calculated decision [to play vs. Philadelphia] because we got the right result and afterwards the boys got the belief and had a fantastic home win against Houston.”

With Cahill unable to go from the opening whistle, Petke will likely not have many lineup selection headaches this weekend. One position that might require some good thought for the second-year head coach, however, is center back.

Ibrahim Sekagya is back from a one-game suspension due to a red card received vs. the Union and now Petke will have to decide between Sekagya and Armando for the center-back spot next to defensive anchor Jámison Olave. Both Sekagya and Armando fared well in their most recent outings, but Petke did not reveal which of them would get the nod against the Crew.

“They’re both competent and confident with the ball,” said Petke. “Defensively, Armando is more of a get-stuck-in guy and Ibra is more of a read-the-game guy, not to say he doesn’t get stuck in. They’re both similar, but have some different type of things. It depends on the day, it depends on what we’re feeling.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.

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