PURCHASE, N.Y. – For the first time this season, Frank Lampard trained with the full team Wednesday morning and the New York City FC midfielder’s long-awaited 2016 debut may not be far away.
The veteran Designated Player has spent the first two months of the season rehabbing from a nagging calf injury.
Most of that work has been on the side, individual work with a trainer. But Wednesday, Lampard was finally integrated into the first team, albeit for about 30 minutes before working on finishing on his own.
“Frank had the first part of the training with the team today,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “Regarding how the calf will react tomorrow [will decide if] he’ll do the full session. He’s getting close.”
Lampard’s Major League Soccer career had a delayed start, first because of an extended stay with Manchester City, and then by injuries, first to his calf and then to his quad. The 37-year-old midfielder was limited to 10 appearances a year ago, scoring three times.
Lampard joined NYCFC for the beginning of preseason, but he only played in one preseason match and has been sidelined ever since.
While skeptical NYCFC fans will believe it when they see it, it appears that Lampard is closer to stepping onto the field than Jack Harrison, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
The 19-year-old midfielder, who was acquired in a draft day trade with the Chicago Fire after competing with NYCFC affiliate club Manhattan Soccer Club, has been hampered with a pelvis injury, but Vieira is encouraged by his progression.
“Jack is still working by himself, but he went one step up,” Vieira said. “It should be another week before he can train with the team.”
Both players will be part of a larger-than-usual traveling party for upcoming road games against on Sunday at Portland (7:30 pm ET, FS1) and Wednesday at Toronto (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Because they are not yet training fully with the team, neither player was made available to the media.
“We’re taking everybody on the trip because we don’t know what is going to happen with the flying, the games, we don’t know how players are going to react,” Vieira said. “We’re taking everybody on the trip because from Portland we’re going straight to Toronto. It will be an important trip for us.”