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Robinson hoping Andy O'Brien is fit to face Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night.

VANCOUVER — Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson may have a decision to make at centre back when arch-rivals Seattle Sounders FC visit BC Place this weekend.

The former Wales international is keeping a close eye on the fitness of Andy O'Brien after the experienced central defender was forced to pull out of training on Canada Day with a hip problem.

"We'll assess it day-by-day," Robinson told reporters after Wednesday's training session at UBC. "Hopefully, he'll be back and obviously be in contention."

Already without captain Jay DeMerit with an ankle tendon injury, Robinson knows the potential absence of O'Brien will limit his options at centre back, despite resting the former Republic of Ireland international from Vancouver's disappointing 2-0 away defeat to Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids this past weekend.

"Every team goes through an injury crisis. Ours, at the moment, is happening at centre back. But we'll get on with it," Robinson said. "You won't hear me moaning about not having him (O'Brien) in the line-up or he's been injured. It will give someone else the opportunity. We'll patch it up and we'll move forward. I got every confidence in every single player that I've got in my squad. If I didn't have, then they wouldn't be here, so we'll make it work."

The Whitecaps' centre back issues contrast with the depth Robinson now has in other areas of his squad. At fullback, the return of Steven Beitashour from World Cup duty with Iran has coincided with the return to full fitness of youngster Sam Adekugbe and South African native Ethen Sampson.

Though an experience the right back will soon not forget, Beitashour was disappointed not to appear in any of Iran's Group F matches at Brazil 2014. "My impression was I was going to be playing," Beitashour said. "Then up until the first game, they kind of talked to me and told me they were going with a centre back in my position just because of Nigeria's height. Then I was under the impression I was going to play against Argentina, but I guess we did well against Nigeria, so they didn't want to change the lineup. It's just one of those things."

While Beitashour is delighted to get re-settled with the Blue & White, midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy is pleased to be playing again after nearly a year on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury. Last Saturday, the well-travelled MLS campaigner made his 'Caps debut as a second-half substitute versus his former club Colorado. The Moroccan praised the Whitecaps' sports science team for its role in helping him make a full recovery.

"It was a big journey of just doing rehab and all kinds of therapy. I was lucky enough to be in a spot where I could get great rehab," Ballouchy said. "As I said before, (Whitecaps) have the best physios in the league. Then you throw ('Caps Head of Sports Medicine & Science) Rick Celebrini on top of that, they can make these things happen. I feel good, I feel fit, and I'm happy to be back playing."



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