With Mike Magee back in Fire training camp, team looks ahead to March 9th opener at Chivas USA

Yallop discusses Magee's return to camp, hopes for being ready March 9 vs. Chivas USA

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The return of forward Mike Magee to Chicago Fire training camp on Wednesday night in Tucson, Ariz., was a welcome one after the 2013 MLS MVP had been absent from camp to deal with personal matters according to head coach Frank Yallop.

Trying to catch up on the fitness he missed earlier in camp, Magee took part in a second training session Friday afternoon as Yallop and Fire Technical Director Brian Bliss took part in a media conference call.

“He’s practicing,” Yallop told reporters. “Like I said before [his absence] was for personal reasons. There’s no holding out -- all the words that are talked around. Mike had certain things he had to take care of, he took care of them, he’s back in camp, he looks good and sharp and he’s ready to go. He needs to catch up on his fitness so that’s why he’s doing two-a-days.”

Following a three-and-a-half week stay with the U.S. Men’s National team last month, Magee joined the Fire upon the team’s arrival in Bradenton, Fla., earlier this month but departed after a hamstring injury suffered in training the day before the team’s second preseason friendly against D.C. United on February 8.

With his recent return to camp, Yallop admitted Friday that the Chicago native is “playing catch-up” on his fitness level in terms of where the rest of his squad is at but said his absence from camp and lingering questions about his whereabouts haven’t served as a distraction to the rest of the team.

“Mike in his stature with the team from last season speaks for itself but no, the team’s just plugged along and worked hard. I explained to the group that Mike is away with personal matters and they all accepted that.”

With the start of the 2014 MLS campaign now just 10 days away, the big question with Magee’s return to camp was whether he’d be ready to go from the start when the Fire open up March 9 at Chivas USA.

“I would think he’ll be available,” Yallop said. “Whether he’s in the right shape and so forth to start, we’ll see. I’m going to see how this game goes tomorrow. Obviously you know all about Mike Magee, all of us do and he’s a very good player. If Mike’s fitness is good then he’ll be considered but I’m not saying, 'definitely yes' he’s going to play because that’s an unknown at the moment.”

Whether or not he plays vs. Chivas USA may be determined by his ability to play in Saturday’s Desert Diamond Cup Championship match vs. a Chivas de Guadalajara Development team (LIVE 7:30pm CT on Chicago-Fire.com).

As Magee continues to come back from the hamstring setback, Yallop said he would leave it up to how his second training session Friday afternoon went.

“I’m not sure. He’s going to come back from his second session, I’ll talk to him and see how he’s feeling. What I don’t want to do is push him, get him re-injured and then we’re all in trouble. I want to bring him along slowly, it’s been three weeks – he’s just kind of getting over the hamstring. He still feels a little bit of fatigue in his muscle so again we don’t want to smash him.

“I’m hoping he’s available, at what capacity, I’ll decide later.”