New York City FC

Alexander Callens likely to be fit for NYCFC vs Atlanta United

Chris Smith
Callens is a key defensive leader for NYCFC.
Callens is a key defensive leader for NYCFC. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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New York City FC have been given a much-needed boost by the potential return of Alexander Callens for their MLS Cup Playoff clash with Atlanta United.

The Cityzens are already battered and bruised with Anton Tinnerholm, Keaton Parks, and Nicolas Acevedo all sidelined with injury. Gedion Zelalem is also suspended after seeing red on Decision Day.

Head coach Ronny Deila will have been holding his breath as a number of his key players left for international duty recently. Callens was among that cohort and returned early from duty with Peru after sustaining a muscle injury in their 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia. Luckily, it appears the problem isn't too serious for one of NYCFC's key players.

"It’s a good thing that we have a lot of national team players. That says something about the quality of the squad and also about the way we work, so that’s the life of a coach who has a good team," Deila said at his pre-match press conference (via MLSsoccer.com).

"But of course we want everybody to be healthy and to be ready to play. And I’m quite confident that Callens will be ready."

With a dangerous Atlanta United outfit en route to Yankee Stadium this Sunday, you'd forgive Deila for being worried about the state of his starting XI with so many absences and fitness doubts. Can they cope defensively with the likes of Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco? Will they have enough through the middle to stop Marcelino Moreno driving forward?

But the Norwegian is calm, placing trust in every single member of his roster.


NYCFC vs Atlanta United: Team previews


"That’s never been any problem," Deila said. "We’ve had injuries the whole season. For me, we’re going to have 11 on the whole pitch. Throughout the whole season, everybody is going to get the chance. And they are ready to play whoever is going to play in there.

"I know that everybody will give me what I want. And the togetherness and team spirit is really, really strong. We have so many times this year, different players … they’ve come on and have done a good job of how they are impacting the game."

The winner of Sunday's Round One clash will travel to Foxborough to face the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.


Find out how to watch the MLS Cup playoffs on TV here.

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