FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps faces few fitness doubts as he prepares to name his squad for the trip to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
Long-term injury victim Saër Sène (left ACL surgery recovery) remains the only player firmly ruled out for the excursion to PPL Park as Heaps sorts through his potential options for the date against the Union.
“We have almost everyone here training full,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We're working on Saër and getting him back here. We're doing well in terms of the injuries.”
Revolution defender Chris Tierney loomed as the primary concern last week as he continued to work his way back to full fitness after an ankle injury suffered in preseason. He returned to the practice field this week on an unrestricted basis in a bid to boost his efforts to earn a place in the starting XI.
“Last week, he was almost in full training,” Heaps said. “This week, he was in full training. It was such a gruesome injury, but he's doing well with his recovery.”
Tierney's recovery and the continued health of Kelyn Rowe (knee) gives Heaps plenty of choices in midfield. Rowe will push for a place from the outset after playing an influential role off the bench in the 1-0 victory at Toyota Park, but he will face competition from Lee Nguyen and Donnie Smith for the two wide berths if Heaps opts to stick with the 4-2-3-1 setup selected last weekend.
Heaps said the competition for places will ultimately benefit the Revs as they prepare for the challenges presented by John Hackworth's side.
“That's the good thing about having players ready and healthy: it makes our job a lot harder, but it gives us the choices to be able to take advantage of some of our strengths and eliminate some of the other team's strengths,” Heaps said.