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Orlando City Has a Decision to Make with Martin Paterson

The Orlando City forward has played just 37 minutes this season due to various injuries. Should the Lions extend his contract when it ends at the end of the month?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Orlando City acquired striker Martin Paterson on loan from Huddersfield Town in January, they anticipated him being more than just another body on their roster. But with injuries plaguing a large portion of his stay in Central Florida, the Northern Ireland forward has played a combined 37 minutes in three appearances this season. That number comes up far short of what Orlando City was looking for before the season.

The 28-year-old was penciled in as the starter by head coach Adrian Heath during the preseason before a hamstring injury sidelined him just before the club's preseason tournament in Charleston. His experience was supposed to serve as a place-holder as the club's younger forwards — Bryan Rochez and Cyle Larin — grow their game and adjust to the oh-so-glamorous life of being a professional soccer player living in America.

It wasn't until May 17 against the LA Galaxy that Paterson would see the field again, playing a handful of minutes in his MLS debut. In that time between the preseason and then, Orlando City started a handful of different faces up top — Larin, Carlos Rivas, Pedro Ribeiro, and Danny Mwanga.

And just as it looked like Paterson was starting to gain minutes in his return to the lineup, Heath revealed to reporters at training on Thursday that an injury to his MCL would have him sidelined for another couple of weeks, listing him as week-to-week.

Orlando City has a somewhat difficult decision to make this month when his loan from Huddersfield Town — who announced they would be letting him go from his contract with it ends this summer — ends in a couple of weeks.

This is the part of the season where Paterson would have been best used for the Lions. Rochez is away with the Honduran U-20s for the World Cup in New Zealand, and Larin is about to leave for World Cup qualifying with the Canadian National Team, before his certain call-up for the Gold Cup next month. With Paterson on the roster, those international losses wouldn't have hurt the team's depth as much as they do now with his latest injury.

Hypothetically, if this injury keeps him out for several weeks, by the time he's healthy again Rochez should be back with the squad, Ribeiro might have scored another 15 goals, and, if any of the transfer rumors about Orlando City grabbing another big name in July come true, are there any game minutes available for Paterson? Probably not.

If they feel he's worth keeping around, Orlando City could try to give him a low-ball offer hoping he'll take it. You can never have too much depth anywhere on your roster, especially up top.

Otherwise, he's a body taking up a spot on the roster and cap space on the payroll that could be used in other places during the summer window.

Dealing with the injuries might be worth the hassle, but only at the right price.