PURCHASE, N.Y. – Frank Lampard said a long week of training has done wonders for him and the star midfielder is a prime candidate to be in Jason Kreis’ starting XI for the derby match against the New York Red Bulls Sunday at Red Bull Arena (7 pm ET, Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes, TSN2).
Lampard played less than 30 minutes in his Major League debut last Saturday in New York City FC’s 3-2 loss to Montreal after just one full training session with his new club as he battled back from a calf injury.
“It’s good to have a full week’s training behind me. I feel fitter and the injury feels much better. That’s the main thing. It’s just a case of getting complete match fitness. I had lack of training because of the injury,” Lampard said. “I’m not sure I’ll be 100 percent match fit, but certainly with the injury I’ve had a great week and done as much, or more, than I thought I could have done this week to be ready for selection on Sunday.”
Kreis said the longer week of training has been fortuitous not just for Lampard, but for all the new players trying to jell with their new teammates.
“You gain match fitness by playing matches. There’s no other way,” Kreis said. “That will come with the matches he accumulates, same thing for [Andrea] Pirlo, same thing for all the new players.”
Along with Pirlo, Lampard watched the second match between New York City and the Red Bulls at a sold out Yankee Stadium in late June.
“It compared with derbies I’ve played in England. The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium was fantastic from both sets of fans, but particularly our home fans that day,” Lampard said. “It’s the reverse this time, we’ll go to their stadium and I know it will be a sell-out there. I think any top player playing in a top league wants to play in those atmospheres. You can’t buy that. It’s what gets you up, makes you want to play the game.”
Lampard said he’s played in his share of terrific derbies, especially at Chelsea.
“Chelsea had big rivalries with Tottenham, then Arsenal. We were always fighting for the top of the league generally with Arsenal,” Lampard said. “Those were always big games and I’ve had good and bad. You always remember the bad ones because they feel so horrible afterward. I probably had more good than bad. There’s no better feeling than getting one over on your local rivals. That’s what we’ll be trying to do, all of us.”
While Lampard knows that three points Sunday is the onus, he said it’s important for NYCFC to get some payback after back-to-back losses to their crosstown rivals.
“You should never take away from what the derby means in the city. I think you have to be proud of the club you’re playing for,” Lampard said. “You look at the fact we’ve been beaten twice by them and it seems like they enjoyed them wins as well as you would do. I think we’ll take a bit of pride there and try to redress that balance.”