It’s been rough going for the Chicago Fire backline of late, but as of Tuesday at least one member of the unit's injured contingent is eyeing an immediate return to the field.
After missing the side’s last three matches with a left knee injury, defender Matt Polster now appears ready to participate in the team’s upcoming match in Montreal on Saturday (6 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago Plus ) if called upon by head coach Veljko Paunovic.
"I felt good today,” Polster said following training on Tuesday. "I just need to get back and feel confident again and not overthink it so much. The staff has been accommodating. Obviously I wanted to play against Minnesota. It didn’t happen. I didn’t feel comfortable. They said they were fine with that. They just want me to get back to full health and be ready as quick as possible."
Polster’s injury is one of an unfortunate many along the Fire backline. Fellow fullback Brandon Vincent is nearing recovery after a gameday scratch prior to the club’s visit to New York City FC on July 22nd with a quad injury, while central defenders Joao Meira and summer reinforcement Christian Dean have been relegated to the bench following injuries to the calf and foot respectively.
It’s not easy (being hurt), even when you’re winning or losing,” Polster said. "In general, it’s just not very much fun. You try and still bring a positive energy every day, but as a player, being on the bench for an injury is not ideal.”
Polster had been one of the team’s highest usage players prior to his injury. Outside of the heavyweight midfield trio of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty, and Juninho, Polster spent more time on the ball than any other starting 11 regulars in his 14 matches played this season, averaging 74 touches per 90 minutes played. That’s on top of his goal and four assists logged from the right side of the field in 2017 as well.
"I’m just very eager to get back out there myself just in general, but I think the guys in general are very eager to get back on the right track. Today’s training was really solid. I thought everybody was very enthused and were willing to get after it. If we can keep that throughout the week, we’re going to have a good feeling going into Saturday.”
Poster missed the team’s first nine matches of 2017 after originally dealing with a left knee ailment, but — according to team trainers — remains on track to recover fully.
"I talked to our training staff and they said it’s a six-month process to fully heal,” he said. "You can play in two-to-three months, but it doesn’t fully heal for six. It’s just a build up of everything. As long as I manage it well throughout the season and finish this out as far as we can go, and then in the offseason just really, really strengthen the knee as much as possible, (I’ll) be ready for the rest of my career."
In the short-term, however, it’s all eyes on this weekend.
"The goal is to play against Montreal,” he said. “As long as everything goes to plan over the week, I should be playing.”