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Arne Friedrich practices with Fire, but not yet ready to play

Chicago Fire v Sporting Kansas City

Chicago Fire v Sporting Kansas City

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Updated: March 28, 2013 12:10AM

The return of center back Arne Friedrich to the Fire’s lineup might be the spark the club needs to turn around its worst start in franchise history.

But Wednesday after his first day of training, Friedrich wasn’t ready to proclaim himself match-fit. He had spent 16 days in Germany with his personal physical therapist rehabbing a strained right hamstring.

Friedrich spent most of the training session jogging around the practice field and participated in some noncontact passing drills. Coach Frank Klopas does not think Friedrich will be available for Friday’s friendly against Minnesota United FC.

However he has not been ruled out for the Fire’s next league game against the New York Red Bulls on April 7.

“I don’t have pain anymore, so I guess we can celebrate every day a little bit,” Friedrich said. “The most important thing for me is no pain is left.

“Today was my first practice and everything went fantastic. We will see how my body reacts the next couple days when we accelerate a little bit. So I don’t want to state anything today. First of all, I’m very happy that everything is fine now.”

In Friedrich’s absence, the Fire has allowed nine goals in four games — an astonishing number for a team that was expected to be among the best on defense in MLS.

Friedrich captains the Fire’s backline and generally does the majority of the organizing. He also is the team’s emotional leader, giving reason to the Fire’s poor play has been directly related to his ­absence.

“You can’t have one player be the savior,” Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon said. “We have a good character team and we have a good coaching staff. So it’s a combination of all of those things.

“We feel very good about the roster. Four games into the season, we’re not going sort of crazy.”

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