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Real Salt Lake: Javier Morales puts in extra work in quest for full fitness

Javier Morales de Real Salt Lake juega ante Dinamarca durante un partido de la pretemporada en Arizona el lunes, Jan. 28, 2013
Javier Morales de Real Salt Lake juega ante Dinamarca durante un partido de la pretemporada en Arizona el lunes, Jan. 28, 2013
Nick Lamping, RSL Communications

SANDY — Practice conditions were frigid for Real Salt Lake late Tuesday morning at America First Field, with wind chill temperatures dipping to 25 degrees throughout the training session.

Fortunately for the players, coach Jason Kreis was nice and cut the session significantly short as the team trained for just over an hour.

“Nothing about nice, just trying to get the body right for the next game,” said goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Training being cut short didn’t stop midfielder Javier Morales from putting in the extra work necessary in his quest to return to full fitness. He stayed after practice an additional 15 minutes and ran briskly around the field with Kreis.

“I’m trying,” said Morales when asked if he was close to 90-minutes fit. “I’m pretty close.”

Morales played 28 minutes two weeks ago against Seattle on then increased his workload to 45 minutes in last Saturday’s loss at Colorado. The natural progressions suggest Morales might be ready to start this weekend at Vancouver.

The Whitecaps, however, play on turf and Morales admits that might not be the best thing for his knee as he nears full strength.

PLATA READY TO ROLL: Striker Joao Plata did not travel with Real Salt lake to Colorado last weekend because of a slight hamstring injury, but he should be ready to go this weekend in Vancouver after he trained fully on Tuesday.

“He was really close last weekend, a little more precautionary to keep him out, and this weekend we think he’ll be able to contribute in some fashion,” said Kreis.

With both Plata and Robbie Findley out last weekend, rookie striker Devon Sandoval started his second-straight game. Realistically though, RSL would prefer to use Sandoval as a straight backup to Alvaro Saborio, so if Plata is indeed healthy he’s a good bet to start.

RESERVES TO HOST PHOENIX: Tickets went on sale Tuesday for Real Salt Lake’s reserve league exhibition game April 22 against Phoenix FC of the USL Pro league. The game will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7 p.m., and tickets are $8 for season ticket holders and $12 for the general public.

The RSL reserves are 2-0-1 in MLS play this season, coming off a 0-0 draw at Colorado last Saturday night.

As part of the increased relationship between Major League Soccer and USL Pro, several MLS teams have agreed to play exhibition games against USL Pro teams this season. RSL will play Phoenix FC twice in 2013, with the second game taking place at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., June 15.