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Collen Warner sidelined as Bendik nears return

Toronto FC could be set to get Joe Bendik back from injury but could now be without Collen Warner for some time as the midfielder picked up a hamstring strain against Portland.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The injury bug has bitten once again for Toronto FC as the latest victim is Collen Warner.  The midfielder is currently listed as week-to-week by the team after suffering a hamstring stain in the team's 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers.  It is unclear if the midfielder will miss significant time with this injury but he is now questionable for Saturday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Losing Warner would be a blow for the midfield which had found some stability in recent weeks with his inclusion in the starting lineup.  With Jozy Altidore out injured, Greg Vanney had brought Warner in to the lineup to provide more defensive coverage and to allow Michael Bradley to push further up the pitch.  Through the first game and a half the shift seemed to be working as the team looked less vulnerable through the middle of the park and Bradley was able to exert more influence on the matches.

Now Vanney could be faced with the question of how to best replace yet another one of his players.  There is not really a similar option on his bench unless the coach wants to turn to Warren Creavalle as he is the most defensive minded midfielder available among the subs.  Creavalle did well in the role when he come on to replace Warner against the Timbers and could have earned himself another shot with a solid 45+ minutes of play.

The other option for Vanney would be to drop Bradley back in to a deeper role in the midfield alongside Benoit Cheyrou and instead give Jackson or even Jay Chapman a chance in the more advanced midfield role.  That may be less appealing because it against creates the problem of the midfield lacking in a real ball winner to help cover the defence.

Vanney will certainly have some options to consider if Warner is out for an extended period of time and the good news is that he could test some of those options out on Wednesday night in the Manchester City friendly.  The game could allow him to take a closer look at the likes of Creavalle and Chapman to see what they have to offer in the midfield should they be called upon to replace Warner in a meaningful game.

The City friendly could also give Vanney the chance to reintroduce Joe Bendik to the lineup.  The keeper has been able to train with the team recently and could be ready to make his return to action.  Given the play of Chris Konopka in goal there is no real need to rush Bendik back in to MLS action so this friendly could be the ideal chance for him to shake off some of the rust he might have developed and remind the coach why he is the number one.

So while the City friendly on the whole is little more than a useless distraction it could prove to be a positive for a few players looking to impress the coach.