Stephens poised to appear in first preseason game on Friday

CARSON, Calif. -- An ankle injury has kept LA Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens on the shelf for the club's opening pair of preseason matches, but on Friday, Stephens is set to return to the field as LA take on Real Salt Lake. 

Stephens returned to full training on Wednesday and appeared sharp in finishing drills as he practiced with the club's forward and midfield players. In Stephens' absence, second-year midfielder Rafael Garcia has performed well alongside Marcelo Sarvas with LA's starting XI, but after watching his teammates at the start of the preseason, he is ready to return to the field.

"I missed the last two games with my ankle injury and [Wednesday] was my first day back so I'm excited about it," said Stephens."I got in a tackle with [Rafael Garcia] and he stepped on the inside [of his ankle], I had MRIs and everything, but it was nothing so I'll back...obviously, you always want to play, but it's better to miss some time now then having [the injury] happen again in three weeks."

The match will be Stephens' first since the 2012 postseason, but the 23-year-old midfielder isn't going to let his excitement get the best of him. 

"It'll be fun to finally playing in another game so I'm definitely a little bit anxious," said Stephens. "But it's a long process and it'll be a  long preseason."