Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell will be spending the first part of 2016 playing in his native England, with the club announcing Wednesday that he will be joining Championship outfit Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan.
The deal will go through, subject to international clearance, when the English transfer window opens on Jan. 2. Ridgewell is expected to miss the first portion of Timbers preseason training camp before returning to Portland for the Simple Invitational preseason tournament, which starts on Feb. 21.
It will be the second short-term loan in as many offseasons for Ridgewell, who spent time prior to the start of the 2015 season with Wigan Athletic.
“Similar to last year, Liam expressed an interest in staying in the UK on a short-term loan to maintain his fitness and to stay sharp leading into the upcoming MLS season,” said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager, in a team statement. “We feel that this loan works well for all parties involved and we look forward to having Liam rejoin the group towards the end of preseason.”
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Ridgewell, 31, helped lead the Timbers to their first MLS Cup in his second season in Portland, captaining the club to a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Dec. 6 after making 32 regular-season appearances in 2015. In total, he has made 47 regular-season appearances with the Timbers since joining the club in June 2014, tallying two goals and two assists.
"Prior to last season Liam was able to get valuable offseason games with Wigan and it helped him hit the ground running in 2015. When a similar opportunity came about with Brighton, we felt it would again be advantageous for both Liam and our club,” said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. “It was also important to have the loan end before our preseason tournament like last year so we have time to plug Liam back in before our first match."