FRISCO, Texas – Veteran defender George John has been conspicuously absent from training this week, and has yet to appear in any of FC Dallas’ preseason matches. John has declined to speak to media all offseason, but Wednesday after practice head coach Oscar Pareja shed some light on his big center back’s situation.
“He has a bone bruise in his patella and a pain that has been there for a long time,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “It bothers him a lot when he’s out jogging, so we are giving his knee the proper time to heal so the same pain won’t reoccur again when he gets back.
“We’re making sure he’s healthy enough and cured of that problem.”
A rock in the back and natural team leader on the field when healthy, John has missed at least 10 games due to injuries in each of the last two seasons. The team has often correspondingly struggled in his absence, going 3-7-9 in games where he was unable to play, so his absence is not insignificant.
Homegrown player Moises Hernandez, who turns 22 next week, could be the one tapped to fill in if John is unable to go in the season opener March 8 against Montreal, while veteran Stephen Keel is also in the mix to start alongside third-year player Matt Hedges.
Second-year man Walker Zimmerman is, like John, still sidelined by injury.
When asked if John would be ready in time to play against the Impact, Pareja responded, “We’ll see. Hopefully.”