Francis likely to retake starting role

After lengthy rehab, Jamaican now healthy, ready to step back in

Shaun Francis makes an impact against Houston

Photo Credit: 
Jamie Sabau (Getty Images)

Columbus Crew defender Shaun Francis has been frustrated by injuries
all season. Now that he is healthy, however, his troubles may be far
behind him, as head coach Robert Warzycha looks set to restore him to
the starting left back role over incumbent Josh Gardner.

“[Gardner] did a very good job but it’s no secret that when I talked
to Josh, Shaun was my first choice,” Warzycha said. “He’s probably going
to be playing behind him if [Francis] performs.”

Big things were expected of the speedy Jamaican this year after
unseating veteran Gino Padula at left back during the 2010 season.
Francis played in 14 games last year, but a torn left hamstring at the
end of the preseason delayed his first appearance to June 4 in a
four-minute runout.

Two days later, Francis aggravated the hamstring while jogging. Soon
after recovering from that knock, he suffered yet another injury – a
groin strain in a July 26 friendly against Newcastle United.

“Even though it was a depressing moment it happened for a reason,”
Francis said. “I’m not complaining. I learned a lot by just watching the
team play.”

Many of the many hours that Francis spent in the training room were
shared with midfielder Danny O’Rourke, who underwent knee surgery in
November. O’Rourke and Francis each went 90 minutes on Sept. 14 against
the Houston Dynamo, as well as against the Philadelphia Union on Sept.
17.

“He’s a great kid,” O’Rourke said. “He’s been very uplifting and very
positive about his rehab. Obviously, neither one of us wanted to have
the extent of the rehab like we’ve had. We’ve both put a lot of time in
the workout room and in the training room to go back out there and do 90
minutes.”

And coming off their back-to-back performances, both are expected to start on Saturday against the LA Galaxy.