FRISCO, Texas – Ramon Nuñez is close to full fitness for the first time since tearing his ACL last September, and the FC Dallas midfielder could be two weeks away from making his return to competitive action.
Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday that FCD are hoping to bring the Honduran international to Chicago for a Reserve League game on May 1, in which Nuñez hopefully could see his first minutes since returning to the MLS side from Leeds United this spring.
And Hyndman believes his onetime charge from their college days at SMU offers the versatility could present more options when it comes to organizing his players on the field.
“He could definitely come in and play the diamond midfield [in a 4-4-2] with us because he’s a creative player," Hyndman said, "he’s quick, he’ll play on both sides of the ball and he’s a much better player today than he was when he played for me at SMU."
Security for oft-fouled attacking midfielder David Ferreira is certainly vital to the team’s title aspirations, but a player of Nuñez’s talent is not likely to stay on the bench once he is at full fitness. Hyndman even said last month that he considers Nuñez starting quality provided he's fit. It’s highly unlikely he’d supplant Ferreira in the No. 10 role, but the former Leeds and Scunthorpe United man does believe he has other spots in which he can contribute.
“In England, [the wings are] where I played most of my games,” he explained. “I am comfortable out there and can do a good job out there, but … the most comfortable role for me is the playmaking role. I grew up playing there and it’s where most of my game is based.”
Given the mixed results of FC Dallas’ early-season experiment with striker Kenny Cooper in the midfield, it’s not hard to foresee Nuñez being deployed wide right or left in a 4-4-2 with Jackson manning the opposite side and Cooper moving into his more natural forward position in a partnership with Blas Pérez or Eric Hassli.
But Hyndman knows it’s going to be a matter of time before he sees what he truly has in his former collegiate star.
“Coming back and training is one thing,” Hyndman explained. “Now it’s going to be coming back and matching the intensity that’s in a competitive game and then coming back to being one of your best. If he’s going to help us, he’s going to have to be at his best.”