New York City FC fans had been expecting to see Frank Lampard take to the pitch at Yankee Stadium on Sunday against Toronto FC for his long-delayed MLS debut, but now they will have to wait a bit longer.
The club confirmed on Friday evening that the 37-year-old midfielder picked up a minor calf injury in training which will rule him out of match and delay his stateside bow until the following weekend’s trip to the New England Revolution.
Speaking to NYCFC.com, Lampard himself said: “I’m hugely disappointed to be missing out on Sunday’s game, which I have been really looking forward to. I’ve been feeling great in training and have loved working with the squad. Unfortunately I sustained a small strain to my calf during a session.
“Whilst I’ve been taking it day by day since then and have been involved in light training, I’ve just been advised by the medical team that it needs a few days’ rest for it to heal fully.
“As I say, it’s personally very disappointing for me but these things happen in football. The good news is that I should be back in full training next week. While I was desperate to play a role on Sunday, I have to take the advice of our medical team to let it heal and not risk further injury so I can get back on the pitch and play a full role as soon as possible.”
Unrelieved last summer as NYCFC’s second star signing following the capture of fellow Designated Player David Villa, Lampard’s MLS career was originally supposed to start back in March when the expansion side’s inaugural campaign kicked-off.
Instead, the Chelsea legend became the centre of a transfer saga after joining Manchester City on a six-month loan deal, when his impressive displays saw his spell extended until the end of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
The second half of his campaign ended up becoming somewhat of damp squib, however, with the former England international making just fleeting cameos as Manuel Pellegrini’s side missed out on silverware.
Speaking to the New York Daily News earlier this month on the decision to extend his spell in Manchester, he said: “I was asked from the top to stay on in Manchester, so it wasn’t an easy position for me to be in. I’m not trying to wash my hands of it because I am a man and I make my decisions, but it kind of felt right at the time to carry on playing. …It was spoke about a lot. I don’t want to speak about it anymore, I just want to play.
“The situation happened as it did and I kind of sat there and, yeah, when you stay on and the club really wanted me to stay on, and I thought I’d play more matches, obviously. It didn’t work out that way. So sure, I looked at New York and I knew that’s what I signed up for.
“It was a strange feeling. But it wasn’t too much of a problem for me, I thought, ‘I’m in this now, and New York is coming.’”
His effort to make up for his prolonged absence has gotten off to a bad start so far but, with an 18-month contract and talk of a possible extension, he has more than enough time to win over the fans.