Darlington Nagbe returned to the Portland Timbers in time for the team's final match down in Tucson on Thursday, seeing the field for sixty minutes in the team's 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Nagbe's return from national team duty went a long way toward getting the Timbers back to full strength for the upcoming season, but there is still one big piece missing: team captain Liam Ridgewell.
Yesterday, however, Ridgewell played the final game of his offseason loan with Brighton & Hove Albion, starting and going seventy minutes in the side's 3-2 win over Bolton Wanderers, Brighton's fourth win in a row, as the team moved up the table and into fourth place with a game in hand on the side above them.
In fact, during Ridgewell's time with Brighton, the side went 4-1-0 in the Championship with him on the pitch, losing to Rotherham United before rattling off successive wins against Blackburn Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Brentford, and Bolton.
Ridgewell will rejoin the Timbers just as the team returns to Portland from Tucson, having missed out on the first month of training camp. His fitness level should not be at issue, however; Ridgewell went the distance in four of his five matches with Brighton, playing 430 league minutes for the side and getting more game time than just about any two other Timbers so far during the preseason.
What is somewhat concerning is that Ridgewell reportedly left his final match with Brighton early due to an injury, although there are precious few details available as to what happened. Little seemed to be made of the supposed injury, however, and most accounts of the match do not seem to mention it at all.
When Ridgewell gets on the pitch with the Timbers once again he will be the presumed starter, but with a series of strong performances in the preseason from new arrival Jermaine Taylor, that presumption will need to be backed up.
Update: Ridgewell told fans he would be fine on Twitter when asked about the extent of his injury.
@ArsenalLR it'll be fine— Ridgy 6 (@liam_ridgewell) February 13, 2016