BURNABY, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC welcomed trialist Damian Batt to training on Monday.
The 28-year-old former Norwich City youth product, who has toiled with English fourth-tier outfit Oxford United since 2009, trained with the 'Caps for the first time on Monday at the Sport Chek Open Practice in front of about 1,200 fans at Swangard Stadium.
Damian Batt talks to the media after first training session
“I’ve heard some great things from Nigel [Reo-Coker] and a few of the other players," said Batt. "I’ve spoke to them for the last four weeks about here, so we’ll see what happens.”
Batt, who claims to be two-footed, trained as a right fullback during Monday’s session, but said he’s comfortable defending on either flank. Before settling at Oxford United four years ago, he had endured a rather nomadic experience, never spending more than two years at a single club.
“I’m more comfortable at right back, but I’m both-footed,” Batt said. “But I’m just happy to play football. I love the game that much.”
Following the trade of left back Alain Rochat to D.C. United, Vancouver have been very thin at both fullback positions. There is nobody on the squad that’s a natural fit to replace left back Jordan Harvey, and only sophmore defender Greg Klazura behind Young-Pyo Lee on the right.
That meant head coach Martin Rennie essentially had to improvise, using Nigel Reo-Coker, the club’s most dominant midfielder, as a deputy fullback.
Rennie talks about Batt after Sport Chek Open Practice
With 36-year-old Lee suggesting this is his final year, the club will also have an eye to next season, and at eight years the former South Korean international's junior, Batt still has plenty more football left in the tank.
“Damian’s here on trial,” Rennie said following Monday’s session. “He’s here for the week and we’ll get a good chance to look at him. We like what we’ve seen and we’re just interested to see a little bit more, so it’s nice to have him here.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.