Vancouver Whitecaps want to bring out the best of Brek Shea - Carl Robinson

Brek Shea can play an important role for the the Vancouver Whitecaps this season despite falling out of favor at Orlando, coach Carl Robinson says.

Former Orlando coach Adrian Heath experimented with Shea at left-back, and though Jason Kreis restored him as an attacking winger after replacing Heath in July, the 26-year-old made only five starts under the new manager.

But Robinson told MLSSoccer.com that he and his staff see plenty of potential in Shea and have no doubts over his best position.

"He's a strong boy, he's a good size and very, very quick," Robinson said. "I don't see him as a full-back. I see him as a wide player or a forward player. My job, and my staff's job, will be to try and bring out the best of him because he's still only 26."

Shea made 34 appearances for the U.S. national team under former coaches Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann, and Robinson said he believes a good season can get him back in the plans of new boss Bruce Arena.

"If we can give him confidence and he can produce on the field on a weekly basis, then he should be knocking on Bruce Arena's door, the national team door, to try and get back in on a regular basis," Robinson said.

Shea's reputation also took a hit after a pair of 2013 Instagram photos raised eyebrows during a short spell with Stoke City in the Premier League, but Robinson said he believes Shea has since matured.

"Young players all over the world, in any sport, are challenged when they get things given to them at an early age and you don't know what's right or wrong," Robinson said. "When you become a father and you have a family, it makes you experience different things in life. Until you experience that, you can tell the players what it's like but they never really grasp it and get it.

"I certainly know that's happened with Brek. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, sometimes you have to learn bad things before you come out the other side. But Wayne Rooney's got a bad reputation and I'd sign him!"

Shea is on a big contract -- he made $595,000 in total compensation last season for Orlando -- but Robinson confirmed that the Whitecaps have to use Shea as part of a larger deal.

The coach also said Shea could debut in the Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League match against the Red Bulls if his Canadian work permit is approved in time.