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Miller likely to return for second leg of Canadian Championship

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The Canadian Press
5/24/2013 10:00:57 PM
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VANCOUVER -- Kenny Miller's future with the Vancouver Whitecaps has been in doubt this week, but his appearance in one game is virtually certain.

Miller will return to action in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship against Montreal after missing about two months with a nagging hamstring injury.

"I've probably been good to go for the last 10 days or so," said Miller after a practice Friday at the University of British Columbia. "It's been just gradually stepping up, stepping up and, obviously, the last couple days, I've been into full training with the lads."

The striker has not played a game since March 30 when he was injured in training with the team.

It was an untimely loss, because he had scored two goals in three games, and Vancouver has struggled to find offensive consistency since then.

"The initial injury we had, we didn't think it was going to be too serious," he said. "But, for one reason or another, it just dragged on and dragged on. ... It's been a frustrating six, seven weeks in terms of watching the lads and wanting to get in there with them."

The Whitecaps won their first two MLS games of the season with Miller in the line, but have earned just one victory since then while posting a 3-4-4 record in league play.

"I was real happy with the way (the season started), but the injury has curtailed that (excitement) to a certain extent," said Miller. "So it's important for me to get back and get back to a level of fitness and match fitness that I was (in) before -- and get back to that level as quickly as possible."

The Whitecaps and Impact will conclude the title series Wednesday at B.C. Place. The clubs played to a scoreless draw in the opening leg of the two-game aggregate series in Montreal.

Coach Martin Rennie is looking forward to getting Miller back after his strong start to the season.

"He was scoring goals, he was creating chances and he was bringing good leadership on the field and off the field," said Rennie. "So we have missed him. Hopefully, he'll be back -- and stay back -- for a long time."

Miller, a 33-year-old Edinburgh native, was not eager to discuss Scottish media reports that say he is headed back to his former Glasgow Rangers squad by September, if not earlier. He declined to answer questions on the subject after dismissing the reports as just rumours a day earlier.

"Obviously, you can't control what's said or written by other parties," said Miller. "But for me, I've been firmly focused on getting back on the field for Vancouver."

Vancouver is aiming to win its first Canadian title, which will lead to a berth in the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League.

The Whitecaps have dropped the last two finals to Toronto after the format was changed to accommodate four teams with lower-tier Edmonton added. Vancouver also placed second to Toronto the previous two seasons, when the three-team format involved a round-robin competition.

Since away goals serve as the first tiebreaker, Montreal can win the crown if it scores and the game ends in a draw. In the event of another scoreless draw, the teams will play a 30-minute overtime and then, if necessary, go to penalty kicks.

So Miller's scoring ability could come in handy in the do-or-die game. Rennie, always coy with his lineup, all but confirmed that Miller will play.

But his minutes will be limited due to his lengthy absence from the lineup.

"I haven't really decided on that yet," said Rennie. "But most likely, if you've been out that long, you probably couldn't play a full 90 minutes."

Rennier said that Miller could be used as a starter held to a set amount of playing time or come in as a substitute. Either way, Miller is eager to play.

"It's a cup final," said Miller. "It's an opportunity for the club to win something that we've never won before. It's an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League for the next year, so there's a lot at stake."

Notes: Rennie also dismissed the Scottish media reports on Miller's future. ... The coach indicated that injured midfielder Daigo Kobayashi (ankle) could be back training soon.

Kenny Miller (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
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