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Portland Timbers Training Quotes and Notes: The Captain Returns

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William Conwell

The Portland Timbers worked out at the team's Beaverton practice facility today, putting in a regeneration session in the wake of Sunday's 2-0 loss to Orlando City SC.

With practice open to the press, Sunday's starters were only on hand for fifteen minutes of light jogging before heading indoors, while the rest stayed out on the pitch. Among those in the latter group were Will Johnson and Diego Valeri, both working their way back to fitness as they near recovery from their respective injuries.

Valeri, recovering from surgery to repair his ACL, joined training for the first time this year at the start of last week, but this was the first day back with the rest of the team for Johnson, who is coming back from a more tricky tibia and fibula break suffered in September of last year.

Both players went the distance in today's training session, which started off with some light passing and running, then moved to a 5v5+3 possession drill, and wrapped up with some hard sprints up and down the pitch.

The possession drill exposed the limitation of Valeri and Johnson's training regimen as both were allowed to be in the grid for the drill, but were exclusively neutral players, consistently part of the "+3" and not allowed to tackle or be tackled. The pair both looked rusty in their passing under pressure in the possession drill, but were not out of place in the sprints, with neither Valeri nor Johnson finishing last in their respective groups.

"We are hoping that next week they are completely released to train full out," said Caleb Porter about Johnson and Valeri.

"They are on the exact same track right now," Porter elaborated when asked about Johnson's return to training alongside Valeri. "Now, whether they are on the same track for the matches we will see, but right now they are doing the same exact thing in training."

Last week Porter told the press that the team hoped to get Valeri back to playing fitness in early May.

Yartey Watch

Ishmel Yartey, who made the bench on Sunday but did not see the pitch, continued his hard work in training today. Yartey had previously been pegged as lacking fitness after a long layoff without playing first team minutes, but is now looking fit in training.

A player with a considerable burst of speed, Yartey seemed to be consistently at the lead of his group in the team's sprints today, particularly later in practice as other players fell off and Yartey looked to be continuing to push himself.

"I think you will see his debut," Porter said about Yartey's potential to play this weekend. "Whether or not he will start remains to be seen this week in training."

"We felt he needed another full week to get minutes. Obviously with making the sub at halftime with [Jack Jewsbury] going into the game, we had two subs left and we felt that Gaston at this stage, because he has been here and has played more of a role, deserved that last ten minutes. Certainly those things can change as time goes on."

Injuries and Absences

Michael Nanchoff worked on the sidelines of practice today with one of the team trainers. Asked about Nanchoff's potential return, Porter told the press "soon" and that Nanchoff is still going through the return to play protocol for sports hernia surgery.

Ben Zemanski was not on hand for training today. Zemanski is still recovering from a torn ACL and is expected back in training late in the season.

Trialists and Guest Players

Danny O'Rourke continued his time as a guest player with the Timbers today.

Justin Luthy and Anthony Manning were both on hand from T2 today. Manning was on the receiving end of plenty of vocal encouragement from Sean McAuley today as he lagged just behind Taylor Peay in the end of training sprints.

The players on loan to T2; Peay, Andrew Thoma, Nick Besler, Jake Gleeson, and Schillo Tshuma; were on hand at practice today, filling out the first team's numbers for the session.