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Liam Ridgewell Goes on Loan to Championship Side Brighton

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers have allowed defender Liam Ridgewell to go on loan to English Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion. Ridgewell will be with Brighton until mid-February, helping the injury-riddled side in their bid to return be promoted to the Premiership before returning to the Timbers in time for the Simple Invitational preseason tournament.

The loan will start when the English transfer window opens on January 2nd.

Rumors of the move have been circulating in the English media for the last week with Brighton struggling to cope with a long term injury to starting left back Gaetan Bong and manager Chris Hughton having previously worked with Ridgewell at Birmingham City.

Brighton were not the only suitors for Ridgewell, however, as mid-table Premier League side West Bromwich Albion and several others were also interested in the defender's services. As with Ridgewell's 2014-15 offseason loan to Wigan Athletic, however, the Timbers sent him to Brighton in order to ensure he will return in time to participate in the preseason with the team.

Of course, Brighton will be hoping that Ridgewell's loan spell with them will be more profitable than his time with West Brom Wigan, which saw the club relegated from the Championship.

The Timbers' press release:

DEFENDER LIAM RIDGEWELL TO JOIN BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION ON OFFSEASON LOAN
Veteran defender to rejoin Portland prior to start of 2016 MLS season


PORTLAND, Ore.
– Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell will join English Football League Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion on a short-term loan, it was announced today. Ridgewell begins training with Brighton this week, with the clubs set to complete the transfer, subject to international clearance, once the window opens Saturday, Jan. 2.

Ridgewell, 31, helped lead the Timbers to their first MLS Cup in his second season in Portland, captaining the club to a 2-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC on Dec. 6 after making 32 regular-season appearances in 2015. A veteran of more than 250 matches in the English Premier League with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, Ridgewell tallied his first career MLS postseason goal in the 23rd minute of a 3-1 victory over FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 22 at Providence Park.

"Similar to last year, Liam expressed an interest in staying in the UK on a short-term loan to maintain his fitness and to stay sharp leading into the upcoming MLS season," said Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers general manager. "We feel that this loan works well for all parties involved and we look forward to having Liam rejoin the group towards the end of preseason."

A native of Bexleyheath in London, Ridgewell, who joined Wigan Athletic on a similar, short-term loan in preparation for the 2015 MLS season, has made 47 regular-season appearances with the Timbers since joining the club in June 2014, tallying two goals and two assists. 

"Prior to last season Liam was able to get valuable offseason games with Wigan and it helped him hit the ground running in 2015. When a similar opportunity came about with Brighton, we felt it would again be advantageous for both Liam and our club," said Caleb Porter, head coach of the Timbers. "It was also important to have the loan end before our preseason tournament like last year so we have time to plug Liam back in before our first match."

Ridgewell is expected to miss the first portion of Timbers preseason training camp before returning to Portland for the Simple Invitational and the start of the 2016 season that begins on Sunday, March 6, as Portland plays host to Columbus at Providence Park.