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Revs coach Heaps playing it safe to keep Joseph healthy

Shalrie Joseph

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When New England Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph picks up an injury, his powers of persuasion usually rise to the fore.

Joseph hates to watch from the sidelines. If he can walk, he wants to play. And most of the time, he manages to coax his way into the starting XI by saying he can go out and play through whatever's ailing him.

Business as usual stopped last week when Joseph picked up a right adductor strain in the first 15 minutes of the 0-0 draw against Columbus. Joseph finished out the match and subsequently started his usual lobbying process ahead of last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Toronto FC.

This time – under a coach (and a former teammate) who almost always uses the word precautionary when discussing injuries and who knows all of Joseph's tricks in this department – he met a significant level of resistance, sat out every training session and spent the weekend at home.

“Trying to convince Jay of something [like that] is really hard,” Joseph told MLSsoccer.com. “He's not Steve Nicol where you can tell [him] that you can play through it and he'll let you get away with it. It was harder.

"He told me to be smart because it was an injury you don't want to make worse and have it linger throughout the season. I was smart and took a game off and the boys did well to get a point on the road and we should have had three. I'm just trying to get better for this weekend against Seattle.”

Joseph returned to the training field on Tuesday in order to further that particular quest. He participated fully and reaped the benefits of sitting out at the weekend. Before practice ended, though, the Revolution captain found himself winding down before his teammates completed their work for the day in order to ensure he didn't push himself too much on his first day back in the fold.

“We have to be smart,” Heaps said. “Shalrie's a big part of what we do. We have to make sure we take precautions. It's good to have him back this week.”

Now that he has returned to the training field, Joseph said he wants to pick up where he left off before he picked up the strain. His legs feel good right now, but the 34-year-old midfielder knows he needs to make progress in order to feature against the Sounders on Saturday.

“The next two or three days, I'm going to be pushing a little bit,” Joseph said. “They cut me off in practice today because I was trying to do too much as usual. I felt good the last couple of days. Hopefully, I'll feel great enough where I can make an impact and be ready for the game on Saturday.”

Reaching that point will require more dialogue – particularly about the proper approach to training sessions in this situation – and more patience to ensure Joseph doesn't place himself in the position where he must try to argue his case for selection once again heading into the weekend.

“We're making sure that we're monitoring what he's doing, as you could see today, and not letting him do too much,” Heaps said. “Shalrie will always err on the side of doing too much. We'll need to make sure that he does less.”