Union midfielder Brian Carroll has been sidelined by plantar fasciitis since Aug. 6, when he was hurt in a 2-2 draw at D.C. United, but he is expected to return to the field for the stretch run.

Carroll has been working out for the last few weeks and was available Saturday but did not play in a 1-1 draw with Montreal.

The Union (11-10-8) begin the first of three consecutive road games Saturday in Portland against the defending Major League Soccer champion Timbers, who are 10-11-8.

"B.C. will play a role in the game for sure," Union coach Jim Curtin said Wednesday.

If Carroll starts, he will likely replace Warren Creavalle. Curtin said Creavalle is dealing with knee tendinitis and took a big hit Saturday.

The 35-year-old Carroll has appeared in 365 games and will move into fourth place on the all-time list of MLS games played if he plays Saturday.

More important, he brings a defensive presence in the midfield. He has appeared in 21 games this season, making 20 starts.

"I am excited and happy to be back here with the guys," Carroll said Wednesday after the training session. "Hopefully I will be able have my number called sometime in the future. But it's really about improving the group and making sure we are sharp and ready to go for each and every game."

Midfielder Ilsinho, who played 20 minutes against Montreal, is still bothered by a foot injury. "Ilsinho does have pain when he opens up and runs in big spaces," Curtin said.

Curtin said he was debating whether to take midfielder Maurice Edu to Portland. Out all season with a stress fracture in his left leg, Edu likely wouldn't play this weekend even if he travels with the team.

Edu has played two rehab games with the Union's United Soccer League affiliate, the Bethlehem Steel. Edu played 32 minutes his first game and 90 in the second.

The Union have five games left and are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The top six teams make the playoffs.