Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath has marked midfielder Antonio Nocerino as a game-time decision heading into Friday night's meeting with the Chicago Fire at the Citrus Bowl.
The Italian midfielder, who signed with the Lions last month, has only been training with the club for the last few days after finally arriving in town last Friday. He was presented with his official jersey by team owner Flavio Augusto da Silva during halftime of Sunday's game against Real Salt Lake, and could introduce himself on the field -- in an actual game -- as soon as tomorrow night.
"Yes, there's a chance." Heath said during a radio appearance on Tuesday."He feels good, he's in great condition and has been working hard, but we'll know more in a couple of days. But there is a great chance he'll be involved on Friday."
Yesterday, Heath told media members after training that Nocerino would probably be limited on minutes should he play -- or even start -- against Chicago.
"Antonio [Nocerino] has trained more each day, he'll be a game-day decision," said Heath. "He's got a great personality, you think he's been here three years not three minutes, but he's going to be a really good addition. Obviously, he's a really great footballer, and I didn't realize his finishing was as good as it was after yesterday."
With Kaká all but officially ruled out with a thigh injury, and Darwin Cerén sidelined due to a red card suspension, having Nocerino in the lineup would be a big boost for Orlando City. Heath could shift the lineup around in a few different ways to fit the former AC Milan midfielder into the lineup.
There's been a lot of talk about switching to a 4-3-2-1 this season to adjust to Nocerino, and we saw Heath deploy that against Real Salt Lake on Sunday. The simplest lineup change would be just swapping out Cerén for Nocerino, with Cristian Higuita and Servando Carrasco lining up next to him in the defensive midfield.
If Nocerino does get the start tomorrow night, it'll be interesting to see how Heath decides to deploy his newest weapon. Whatever the answer is, let's hope the Lions can come away with all three points.