Portland Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell keen on future return to England

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

The ex-Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion man is set to lead Portland out in Sunday's MLS Cup final against Columbus Crew SC.

Former Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion defender Liam Ridgewell has admitted to Sky Sports that he would be keen to return to England when his spell with the Portland Timbers ends.

Ridgewell, 31, originally joined the Timbers in June 2014 as a Designated Player after his contract at West Brom expired and has since made 51 MLS appearances for the club, while recording three goals and two assists in the process.

However, the experienced centre-back also spent last offseason on loan at Wigan Athletic, where he featured six times for the then Championship side, and he is not ruling out heading back across the Atlantic when his Timbers deal expires following the 2016 campaign.

“I’d definitely love to go back home and play, and still be able contribute to something,” said Ridgewell, who made more than 250 Premier League appearances during spells with Midlands trio Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom, respectively, between 2003 and 2014.

“I’ve obviously got next year with the Timbers and then I don’t know what’s going to go on after that. To be able to go back home at any point would be fantastic.”

Ridgewell’s debut season in Portland ended in disappointment as the Western Conference side missed out on a playoff spot to Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps by just one solitary point, but his first full campaign could conclude with him lifting silverware.

After a third-place finish in the West, a successful postseason run means the Timbers face Columbus Crew SC in their first-ever MLS Cup final appearance this weekend at MAPFRE Stadium, where the Englishman is set to lead his side out as captain.

The former Villa product has worn the armband for most of 2015 due to usual skipper Will Johnson’s fitness issues, and he produced a talismanic moment in the recent 3-1 first-leg win over FC Dallas in the Western Conference final when he headed home the 23rd-minute opener from a corner.

A calf problem which later forced him off on the hour mark meant he had to sit out the 2-2 second-leg draw in Dallas, but the veteran stopper is now back fit and expected to return to the starting line-up on Sunday to help Caleb Porter's side try to hoist the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy for the first time in their history.

“I’ve never been able to lead a team out in a big cup final and it doesn’t come any bigger than what we’re going to do on Sunday,” added Ridgewell “I’m so looking forward to it.

“When I first made the decision to come here, it was probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to decide in my life. Leaving two kids, family and friends behind was tough, but everyone here has been so welcoming.”

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