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Who could replace Steven Beitashour for Toronto FC?

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Greg Vanney has four options that come to mind.

MLS: Toronto FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t know how long Steven Beitashour will be out yet having had surgery on a damaged pancreas, but Toronto FC will certainly miss him while he’s gone.

It would be a surprise to see the right wing-back play again in July and the fear, of course, is that he could be missing for much longer than that. So who replaces a player who has become one of the first names on the teamsheet?

Beitashour is the one starter that Toronto do not have an obvious backup for, so that is not a question with a simple answer. There are four possibilities that come to mind, though, for Greg Vanney to consider.

1. Continue with the Endoh experiment

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably the most likely solution - at least for now. Toronto did not sign a depth right-back in the winter on the basis that they planned to convert sophomore Tsubasa Endoh to the position, with his chances otherwise looking limited due to the lack of wingers in the Reds’ preferred 3-5-2 formation.

That experiment has produced mixed results so far.

Endoh had his best game yet in the role against the New England Revolution, keeping a lid on a dangerous opponent in Diego Fagundez and recording an assist (albeit a slightly fortunate one) on Toronto’s first goal.

In the limited time Endoh had seen prior to that game, though, he looked to be finding the adaptation difficult; he improved vastly after being shifted to a more natural wing position against the Ottawa Fury and was a clear target of the Philadelphia Union’s in his first appearance of the season back in March.

It is also worth noting that Jordan McCrary has taken over the wing-back spot with TFC II, resulting in Endoh returning to the midfield when he has featured in the USL.

In fairness to Endoh, he hasn’t yet had a run of games at the MLS level to really grow into the position and feel comfortable. He is likely to get that in the coming weeks and his performances will probably dictate whether or not the next three options become relevant.

2. Ask a midfielder to fill in

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The single most qualified candidate to fill the right wing-back slot, to me, is Marky Delgado. We know he has the energy to get up and down the field and the quality to play both sides of the ball effectively.

The problem is you then lose Delgado in midfield, where he is becoming increasingly influential. Yet again, his introduction on Tuesday in the Canadian Championship final as a substitute made the ball move quicker and everyone around him look better.

Armando Cooper could replace Delgado and was much better than he has been of late against New England, making a concerted effort to reduce the time he spends dwelling on the ball, but I’m still not sure I want to lose Marky from his natural position on more than an occasional basis.

Cooper himself would also seem to have some of the qualities required of a wing-back, but did not look good - or particularly interested - there against Minnesota United a few weeks back. With his confidence having been in a fragile place of late, I’m not sure that’s something you want to try again just as he seems to be getting back to his old self.

Both players could provide an emergency option, but the pros of moving one of them to wing-back full-time do not seem to outweigh the cons.

3. Promote from TFC II

Oyvind Alseth Toronto FC II M. Rincon

Oyvind Alseth has signed a first-team deal, looked solid for TFC II and played wing-back in a system much like Toronto’s while at Syracuse. Is he ready for a debut?

It’s tough to say, really. Alseth has far surpassed the expectations associated with a player picked outside of the first round of the MLS SuperDraft in his first professional season, but the fact he hasn’t seen any MLS or Voyageurs Cup minutes over Endoh to this point makes me suspect the coaching staff might feel that he needs a little more time.

He has, however, appeared among the substitutes on a few occasions and you would think he will be spending even more of his time training and travelling with the first team while Beitashour is out.

The other option is McCrary. He has made the right wing-back slot with the Young Reds his own over the past few weeks, and is a former first-round draft pick looking to get his pro career back on track.

McCrary has not been signed to the first team yet, though, and Toronto may be reluctant to use their final reserve roster slot on another right-back when they have already given Alseth a deal.

4. Make a signing

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

MLS’ summer transfer window opens on July 10 and closes on August 9.

I would be surprised if the gears are put into motion to do anything immediate in terms of bringing in a new player, but if July passes, Beitashour is facing an extended absence and Toronto’s internal replacements are struggling to fill the void, Tim Bezbatchenko may be forced to act.

There is too much riding on this season to simply hope someone will step up eventually if the position remains a question mark going into August.

An intriguing possibility is Canada international Fraser Aird, who is out of contract after leaving Falkirk and a natural wing-back.

Aird played for the Vancouver Whitecaps during the 2016 season and was listed as earning $58,625, so he would not be particularly expensive. The question is whether or not he would be a dramatic upgrade on Endoh - or, indeed, if there might not be more experienced options out there.

The other issue is that Beitashour has provided a useful defensive counter-balance to Justin Morrow and Raheem Edwards, and Aird would not - he is an attacking player and has looked vulnerable playing in an orthodox back four for Canada.

With that being the case, Toronto may just as well switch the two-footed Morrow over to the right when he returns from the Gold Cup and play Edwards or Ashtone Morgan on the left.

Aird has undoubted potential going forward, though, as his performance on the right side of midfield for Canada against Scotland recently showed. He is one to keep an eye on at this month’s tournament.