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Michael Bradley praises Nick Hagglund as Toronto FC wait on knee injury

The 24-year-old will undergo an MRI after being substituted against Minnesota United.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Just as Toronto FC get one defender back in Drew Moor, they may lose another after Nick Hagglund suffered an apparent knee injury against Minnesota United on Saturday.

Hagglund, who has been Toronto’s standout centre-back in Moor’s absence and played in each of the three positions on the back line, was hurt in an awkward collision with goalkeeper Alex Bono and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage.

“Don’t know,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said when asked about the severity of the problem. “We’ll see after the MRI, but he’s sore for sure and we’ll see where we’re at.”

The good news is that Moor will be ready to play against the New York Red Bulls on Friday night. Vanney added that the 33-year-old, who has recovered from a minor procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, could have been used as a substitute against Minnesota but instead will be pushed hard over the next few days to get his fitness levels to where they need to be to get through 90 minutes in New Jersey.

Jason Hernandez will also be available; his substitution was apparently the result of eating some bad fish on Friday night.

The improvement in Chris Mavinga’s form has left Vanney with plenty of depth at his disposal but his strongest unit probably remains the Eriq Zavaleta-Moor-Hagglund group that started last year’s MLS Cup final. Hagglund’s progress has been remarkable; he was third in line behind Zavaleta and Moor before Toronto switched to a three-man defence at the back end of last season but is enjoying a superb fourth season in MLS.

That the Reds have barely missed a beat in Moor’s absence is testament to his growing influence.

“He’s such an important guy for us,” Michael Bradley said after the Minnesota win. “Obviously, he and I came here at the same time - he was drafted not long after I got here, and on top of being a real good friend of mine, again, he gives our group so much in terms of his competitiveness, his versatility to play different spots in the back.

“He’s such a good teammate and when you talk about guys who know what it means to compete, guys who are winners, Nick checks every one of those boxes. He’s still a relatively young player on a team with some other big players - it’s not that he’s always the first one to get attention, but he doesn’t care.

“He comes in every day ready to train, ready to work, ready to compete, and when he’s called on he never lets us down.”

Asked if he was surprised to see Hagglund attempt to play on after suffering the injury, Bradley smiled and added: “No, not at all. Not at all.”

Jonathan Osorio, meanwhile, was taken out of the Columbus Crew game on Wednesday due to feeling sickness and a racing heartbeat. Having already had one heart scare with Moor this season, Toronto will send the midfielder to a specialist to be examined.