With three fullbacks injured and possibly out for the remainder of Atlanta United’s season, Homegrown product George Bello will train with the first team, according to manager Gerardo Martino on Friday.
Bello, a 16-year-old native of Douglasville, was just cleared by the medical staff to resume training on Thursday after recovering from an injury. He is considered one of the brighter talents in the U.S. national pool.
Left fullback Greg Garza (shoulder) and right fullback Sal Zizzo (knee) seem likely to miss the rest of the season. Left fullback Mikey Ambrose is also injured, but the diagnosis and prognosis haven’t been revealed by the team.
The injuries leave Atlanta United with Franco Escobar and Chris McCann as the last remaining true fullbacks. Escobar can’t play in Saturday’s game against Toronto at Mercedes-Benz Stadium because of yellow card accumulation.
Martino didn’t want to reveal who would fill in on the right against Toronto. There are candidates:
- Bello is a speedy left-footed player who has three appearances for Atlanta United 2 this season. It doesn’t seem likely he would make his first MLS start so soon after recovering.
- Julian Gressel, who has played at least six positions for Atlanta United in the past two years, could slide into right fullback. He is the best combination of offense and defense at the position of the available candidates.
- Miles Robinson could play right back, but he is much stronger defensively than offensively.
Martino could elect to go back to the 3-5-2 formation that the team used to great success earlier this season. Within that formation right and left fullbacks aren’t needed because wingbacks who play higher up the pitch are used. With Toronto likely to play both Jozy Alitdore and Sebastian Giovinco as forwards, the 3-5-2 make sense because it means three centerbacks are marking two strikers. Gressel and McCann can play either as fullbacks or wingbacks.