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FC Edmonton has to cope with loss of Hamilton for key Minnesota match

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FC Edmonton will go into what will be its biggest game of the season so far without its best player.

Central defender Paul Hamilton misses Saturday night’s home date with the NSC Minnesota Stars because of yellow-card accumulation. Hamilton picked up a yellow late in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Puerto Rico.

The team traveled all day Wednesday, and used Thursday as a day to recover from that full day of flying. So no one has had a sneak peek of any practices to get any idea of how coach Harry Sinkgraven will fill the void left by the absence of arguably the best central defender in NASL.

Paul Hamilton

Dutch veteran Paul Matthijs — originally thought to be out for the season with a hernia issue — has been training. But, even if he was ready to go, it would be a big ask to get more than 60 minutes out of a player who isn’t match fit. Dominic Oppong has dropped from the midfield to play on the defence earlier this season. Midfielder Chris Kooy was also used as a defender when centre back John Jonke was suspended; but he struggled with that positional change.

Sinkgraven does have central defender Adrian LeRoy, who has played in the reserves, as another option.

Because of the lengthy travel time needed to get back from Puerto Rico, FCE will get only one training session in — Friday — ahead of the match with Minnesota. FCE holds down fourth spot in the NASL, one point up on the Stars. But the Stars have a game in hand.

FC Edmonton is five points up on the Montreal Impact, which also has a game in hand. The Impact sit in seventh, three points behind Fort Lauderdale in the chase for the NASL’s final playoff spot.

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