Mike Grella is getting closer to returning to the field for the Red Bulls. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Mike Grella is looking good in training, but don’t look for him at Red Bull Arena just yet.

The Red Bulls midfielder, who has played all of 98 minutes over three games this Major League Soccer season, is trying to return to action after undergoing knee surgery.

“I don’t think he’s ready,” Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said after training at the Red Bulls training center in Hanover, N.J. Thursday. “We need to be cautious, not to push him too quickly, but he’s looking great.

“Even when we’re going to finishing exercises today, you see all of Mike’s qualities. He’s just unique. We’ve missed him. It’ll be important to get him back. I think everyone here is excited each day that he’s making progress.”

It’s that Grella won’t be back for Saturday’s home game against the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Not hamstrung at all

Speaking of injuries, Bradley Wright-Phillips said the record straight as to why he left the Red Bulls’ 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew early last Saturday.

“I felt my hamstring a little bit, but I don’t think that was it,” he said. “Jesse asked us to empty the tank and at the end of the day, everybody was quite tired. I think maybe he gave the excuses it was my hamstring but I was coming off anyway.”

Maybe this week

And speaking of players who haven’t seen much action this season, Marsch indicated that he might use Panama international defender Michael Amir Murillo this week.

Murillo hasn’t played a second this season.

The Red Bulls have three matches over an eight-day, starting with Saturday’s encounter, followed by Wednesday’s game at Sporting Kansas City and next Saturday’s match at the Philadelphia Union.

“I think Amir going along well,” Marsch said. “This will be a three-game week where we’ll have to think about different rotations, when to use them and how to use them. I feel like every day in training he puts more into it and understands the competitive nature of what this is. We’ll look to being evaluating to see how to us him this week.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Guardian.com. Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of BigAppleSoccer.com. He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at Amazon.com.