However, TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen might just have another ace up its sleeve to play up top, as 27-year-old forward Bright Dike looks set to return to action after a long-term injury.
Dike tore his Achilles tendon back in February and has been out of commission the entire 2014 season. But the Nigerian international has returned to the training pitch for Toronto FC and says he’s feeling good and ready to go.
“It feels great. I’ve been waiting so long,” Dike told reporters at training Tuesday. “I was so anxious to get back on the pitch. It feels like Christmas for me.”
Dike came to Toronto FC in September 2013 as part of a trade with the Portland Timbers, after spending most of that season out with another long-term injury. He returned to action for Toronto FC following the trade, impressing the coaching staff with his hold-up play and goal scoring touch.
Such was Dike’s success in recovery that Nigerian head coach Stephen Keshi called him up prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Dike was even in Keshi’s plans to go to the World Cup with Nigeria. But the torn Achilles tendon in February dashed hopes of playing in Brazil.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been through it before,” Dike said, when asked about his injury troubles in the past. “That just makes me know exactly what I have to do beforehand. This time, I’m going to be that much more mobile coming back. The staff has been really great in pushing me to get back, in fitness, mobility and strength.”
Dike was one of the players that Toronto FC fans most embraced in 2013 but his absence has forced the club to acquire other forward options, such as Luke Moore. Dike says he’s just looking forward to playing alongside some of his side’s new players for the first time.
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“You get so excited to play with quality players,” Dike said. “I’m itching to get back on the field and play up top with [Jermain] Defoe. Any time you play with good guys like that, it’s very exciting.”
So, when can TFC fans expect to see Dike again?
“Whenever the coach is ready for me,” Dike said, when asked how long he had before returning to the pitch. “Right now, honestly, I feel good to go so whenever they give me the go-ahead, I’m ready.”