North Carolina FC coach Dave Strachan has opened up on Manny Perez’s current injury.
The Celtic loan star was recalled back to the Scottish champions as he gets set to join pre-season training (North Carolina FC). It ends a four-and-a-half month spell in the USL in which Perez raked in 11 appearances and bagged two assists.
But, in the last three matches before last night’s draw with St Louis, Perez hasn’t been in the squad. And it turns out that the reason for it is because the right-back is currently suffering from an ankle sprain. It’s an injury that he’s still currently recovering from too.
In any case, Celtic want him back this summer, and North Carolina coach Strachan has opened up in Football Scotland about what’s currently going on with the full-back’s knock.
“We had an Open Cup match where he suffered a high ankle sprain so he’s been on the mend the last couple of weeks and hasn’t been involved, but he’s not far away from getting back into the swing of things.
“We saw good progress up until the injury so it’s a shame he lost a little bit of rhythm but he’s moving in a great direction and has adapted quite well. I think this has been the right level to get his feet wet in pro football and get some confidence and some minutes playing.
“I’ve used him primarily as a right sided midfield player. I haven’t played him at the back apart from one game. His ability to get out of trouble and with his speed on the ball getting down the flank is good. He began to be a little more consistent with his delivery and has had some very good assists.”
North Carolina coach makes interesting reveal
Just because Perez has played on the right side of the midfield for North Carolina, it doesn’t mean Neil Lennon will view him in the same light. In fact, the Celtic boss hasn’t really announced what his plans are for the American youngster.
Lennon did say that both Perez and fellow US hopeful Andrew Gutman could both make the training camp in Austria (The Scottish Sun). That’s yet to be confirmed, however.
But as for Perez, this could be a bit of an emergency call from Celtic. We currently have no alternative right-back to Anthony Ralston. The departures of Jeremy Toljan, Cristian Gamboa, and Mikael Lustig have left us extremely short.
Even Perez himself probably isn’t enough to fill the right-back gap. He could end up battling it out with Ralston as second-choice for whoever else Celtic sign this summer.
It certainly looks as though Perez’ North Carolina days are over, however. He got good first-team exposure, albeit at a pretty weak level in the USL. It will have helped him mature slightly ahead of his Parkhead return. Whether Lennon sees another loan deal for him somewhere down the line will be intriguing to see.
Fortunately, it seems as though Perez’s injury woes are close to being over. The North Carolina coach seemed to make that perfectly clear. If he’s to have any chance of breaking through, he certainly needs to be at 100%.