Speaking to MLSSoccer.com, the former Chelsea and England midfielder said: “I need the rest to be fully fit next year for the club. The important thing is that when you have a season that falls below your standards, whether you’re not making playoffs, not winning the league, you have to come back mentally stronger and better.”
Lampard was originally unveiled as an NYCFC player in July 2014 before joining sister club City on what was announced at the time as a loan deal for the first half of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
However, it later emerged in January that the 37-year-old had never actually signed with the MLS expansion side, having instead agreed “a head of terms commitment” and in turn penned a short-team contract at the Etihad Stadium until 31 December.
An impressive run of form for Manuel Pellegrini’s men also led to that deal being extended until the end of the season, causing the Blues legend to miss the start of NYCFC’s inaugural campaign and suffer a considerable amount of backlash from MLS circles.
Eventually arriving in New York in July after barely playing during the second half of his City spell, a nagging calf problem then hampered him through his first two months in the States, as he and fellow summer signing Andrea Pirlo proved unable to lift Jason Kreis’ side up the Eastern Conference table.
Now healthy, he has finally started to make amends for the City debacle by recording three goals and an assist over the past four matches but his impact has come too little, too late, with NYCFC already officially eliminated from play-off contention going into Friday night’s penultimate regular-season game at Orlando City SC.
“I wish I could have not had the injuries, but every player has to accept that injuries come along sometimes,” Lampard added to MLSSoccer.com. “My aim now is to manage myself well for next season, to finish this season on a high, have some breaks at times, but keep ticking over, have a really good preseason and throw everything into next year.”
NYCFC certainly have the pieces in place to suggest that their second year will be much more prosperous and, given the spark he has provided in recent weeks, a fit Lampard for the full season could well make the world of difference.