NEW YORK – For the first time since the final game of the 2015 regular season, Frank Lampard stepped on the field for New York City FC.
When the second-half substitute took the field on Saturday afternoon in a 7-0 New York Derby demolition suffered at the hands of the New York Red Bulls, he did so to a chorus of boos from the home fans at Yankee Stadium.
“I don’t think the fans are aware of the injury I had,” Lampard said afterward. “If I’m getting booed for being injured, then there’s not much I can do about that.”
Lampard said coming on for Andrea Pirlo in the 75th minute with NYCFC down 5-0 was far from ideal, but it was good to get back onto the field after several months of rehabilitation from what he described as a “nasty” calf injury.
“The only plus for me is that I feel physically very good,” he said. “It’s been a difficult injury. To feel good, to feel 100 percent and to come on and play a part was good for me personally, but obviously it was a very bad day for us.”
Lampard, 37, has received criticism from fans since his delayed start with NYCFC and through an injury-plagued first season that saw him limited to just 10 appearances.
He said the calf injury he picked up in preseason was originally diagnosed differently, and ended up needing a longer recovery period than planned.
“I had a nasty injury which was an 8-10 week injury. In the beginning doctors thought it was a small injury and it didn’t turn out to be that,” Lampard said. “I’ve been training morning and afternoon to get fit. People don’t see that. So if they’re going to boo for being injured, as I say there’s not much I can do [other] than get fit, play and show what I can do on the pitch.”
That includes, Lampard said, helping provide leadership to a squad humbled by one of the worst losses in MLS history.
“These things can be forgotten,” he said. “But it’s up to us to make sure it’s forgotten. That’s the desire on the training grounds to go back to basics and work hard.”