With New York Red Bulls nearing full strength, Peguy Luyindula absent from training for personal reasons

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls are getting close to full strength, but they are not quite there yet.

The Red Bulls welcomed defender Roy Miller back to training on Monday after he was away for about a month to partake in Costa Rica’s historic run to the World Cup quarterfinals. But he will not be available in any capacity for either of New York’s two games this week because of a left leg injury sustained in late June, and is tentatively not expected back until the club’s friendly vs. Arsenal on July 26.

“We saw him running today, but my plan in my mind without getting reassurance from the training staff is that he will play some role in the Arsenal game,” said head coach Mike Petke following Tuesday’s practice at Red Bull Arena. “How small or big that role is going to be is going to be determined, and that way we use that as a platform for his fitness and everything. And then leading into the back stretch of the season we’re going to have him healthy and ready.”

READ: No surprise in Henry's dominating performance vs. Crew

Another player who might miss Wednesday’s road trip to face the Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET; ESPN2) and Saturday’s home game against the San Jose Earthquakes (7 pm ET; MLS Live) is Peguy Luyindula. The 35-year-old midfielder was not seen at training on Tuesday, and a clear reason for his absence was not given.

Petke said Luyindula was excused from the morning session because of personal reasons. Petke only reiterated that reason when asked if Luyindula would be available for Wednesday’s tilt at PPL Park. Thierry Henry, however, alluded to an injury and said the veteran midfielder’s absence was a really big loss for the club.

“You want Peguy on the field,” said Henry. “When Peguy is on – as you saw against New England and as you also saw the other day against Toronto – he can basically win a game by himself. That’s the type of thing that you don’t have when Peguy is not around.

“That doesn’t mean you’re going to lose or you’re going to win. That’s just the way it is. We have a team. We have to make sure we can perform as a team and wait for him to come back from his injury.”

The absence would not appear to be injury-related given that Petke is usually up front about players’ injury statuses. Regardless, one midfielder the Red Bulls will be able to count on this week is Dax McCarty, who could make his way back to the starting lineup as soon as Wednesday.

McCarty made his return this past Saturday from a knee problem that sidelined him for more than a month, coming off the bench and playing 29 minutes in the Red Bulls’ 4-1 home triumph over the Columbus Crew.

“I have not made my complete decision up yet, but he feels good, absolutely” said Petke when asked if it is still too early to start McCarty. “He’ll definitely play a role tomorrow.”

Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by email at Franco8813@gmail.com.