PURCHASE, N.Y. – New York City FC are about to embark on a new season with a new coach and a new system.
But it appears they will also begin Year Two as they did Year One – without Frank Lampard.
The veteran midfielder, whose first season in MLS was hindered by a late start and injuries, is likely to miss Sunday’s opener against the Chicago Fire (2 pm ET, MLS Live) with a calf strain.
“I think I’m not concerned at all because he will get better,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “It’s just a question of time. Of course I would like to have Frank on the field training with us. That will give me one more option of players to use.”
Lampard, who also suffered a calf strain and a quad injury a year ago, wasn’t on the field for Thursday morning’s training session and is still working indoors with the training staff.
“He’s getting better, but not good enough to take part in the session today,” Vieira said. “We just have to analyze the situation day after day.”
Vieira also said he has no intentions of rushing Lampard, who only played in one preseason match.
“He missed a few days in the preseason and obviously he will need to spend some time training because when he is back we want him to be back for the rest of the season if he can,” Vieira said. “To allow him to do that he will need a proper preseason.”
Lampard isn’t the only injury concern for NYCFC. Central defender Jefferson Mena is questionable with an ankle injury, though he has started his on-field work.
“Mena is starting to work on the field and he’s getting better and better, maybe beginning of next week he will integrate a bit more into the team,” Vieira said. “But he’s on his way getting back.”
Outside back R.J. Allen is questionable with a back injury, while Connor Brandt (core) and rookie Jack Harrison (pelvis) are out.
“Jack is feeling much better. It’s just a question of time because we don’t want him to come rush and then be out again,” Vieira said. “It may take a bit longer, but when the players get back to the field we want them to stay on the field. This is the way we are going to work.”