New York Red Bulls' Juninho could miss DC United rivalry game with calf strain

Juninho Pernambucano Red Bulls

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UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The left calf strain that forced Juninho to miss the New York Red Bulls’ weekend loss to the San Jose Earthquakes has improved, but there are still no guarantees he will play this weekend for the New York Red Bulls.

Juninho returned to and took part in most of Wednesday’s practice for the Red Bulls – the first time he’s trained in nearly a week – but head coach Mike Petke was not ready to say that the Brazilian midfielder will be available for selection when the Red Bulls host rivals D.C. United on Saturday (12:30 pm ET; NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

“No decisions have been made yet, but he’s doing better,” Petke told reporters at training. “He’s eager to get back and we just want to make sure that he comes along in the correct way. We don’t want to rush anything, force anything. I don’t want players less than 100 percent, especially for this weekend’s game.“

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Petke added that he does not have expectations as to whether Juninho will be eligible to play in New York’s home opener as either a starter or reserve, but he hopes to have an answer by Thursday.

“Come tomorrow, when he should be full in practice, we’ll evaluate,” Petke said. “I don’t want the situation where we’re bringing Juninho on to start knowing that he won’t play 90 [minutes]. I don’t like that thought process, I don’t like that feeling. I’d like to have an answer by the end of practice tomorrow what we expect from him.” 

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com.