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Crew defender James recovering from collapsed lung

Columbus defender Julius James

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio – There’s nothing good that comes from a collapsed lung, but Crew defender Julius James said the response to his recent surgery was uplifting.

He was especially moved by the "get well" banner fans displayed in Crew Stadium during a 4-1 loss to New York last Saturday.

“You definitely feel humbled,” James told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview from his home in Columbus on Wednesday. “I realized how much the fans care for the players and the organization. I have to say thank you for all the support from the fans, the coaches and teammates and all my friends.”

James, 27, underwent an emergency procedure Thursday after being diagnosed with spontaneous pneumothorax. He was released from the hospital on Sunday and is limited in activities as to not raise his heart rate. He could resume full training, including contact, in about a month.

“As of now I’ll be back running before that,” he said.

Shortness of breath and a heavy feeling in his chest after last Wednesday’s practice led James to seek medical attention. It was first believed he might be suffering cramps in his attempt to return to full strength from shoulder surgery in November, which caused him to miss the first three matches.

“It seems like one thing after another,” he said.

After being looked at by doctors James felt better and more relaxed and returned to training Thursday morning, but once again the symptoms appeared and a CAT scan was scheduled for later in the day.

Once the results were found, James was given sobering news.

“They said, ‘Go straight to the emergency room.’ When that happened I was in shock,” he explained. “I asked if I was okay and if I could play again. That was one of my fears.”

Surgery quickly followed and James was fitted with a tube that ran from chest to rib cage to help facilitate his breathing.

Well wishers were numerous during his stay, including texts from representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, and have continued during his recovery. As of Wednesday afternoon his cell phone voicemail was at capacity with messages.

“I’ve very fortunate I’m around a good group of guys,” James said.

More problems for Crew injured

Goalkeeper William Hesmer was scheduled to have his right ankle re-examined Wednesday afternoon, according to coach Robert Warzycha.

Hesmer damaged ligaments on both sides of the ankle at the start of preseason in mid-January and has not responded to rest or treatment as was hoped. It’s beginning to look like a long-term injury, though Warzycha has his fingers crossed.

“I hope not,” Warzycha said when asked about the possibility of being without Hesmer for much longer.

Forward Tommy Heinemann also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday but is expected to go on the disabled list, meaning he will miss at least six matches after having sat for the last three.