New York City FC boss Patrick Vieira remaining cautious over Frank Lampard's fitness

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The former Chelsea and England midfielder saw his first minutes of the season in last weekend's 7-0 home defeat to the New York Red Bulls.

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Frank Lampard may have to wait a while to make his first start of the season for New York City FC, head coach Patrick Vieira has told

Lampard finally made his 2016 debut last weekend when he replaced fellow Designated Player Andrea Pirlo for the final 15 minutes of NYCFC’s humiliating 7-0 defeat at home to crosstown rivals New York Red Bulls.

The 37-year-old midfielder previously sat out the club’s opening 12 games after suffering a calf injury during preseason, but he is now hoping to re-establish himself in the side after getting his first taste of competitive action since last October.

Nevertheless, while Vieira has been pleased with the former Chelsea star’s recent progress, he remains cautious about rushing him back into the starting line-up too soon.

“It’s important for Frank to believe in his calf and keep playing and keep training like he did the last few weeks,” Vieira told “Then he will have 20 minutes here, 15 minutes there, but what is important is to train every day and not miss training. The games will come with how long he’s been training.”

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Lampard himself was satisfied with how his calf responded on his comeback and believes the brief run-out against the Red Bulls helped him overcome somewhat of a mental roadblock.

“It felt really good,” the ex-England international said. “The hard thing was for the first month of the injury I couldn’t run, which is a problem. The injury was diagnosed as a small injury, but it wasn’t, it was a very bad calf injury. It’s been hard, a slow process getting fit.

“I had a good week training last week, but I wasn’t ready to start a game on the weekend, but I’m getting toward that because I’ve lost the nervousness about having the injury.”

Manchester City U21 manager Patrick Vieira

NYCFC, meanwhile, currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Orlando City SC at Yankee Stadium, having recorded four wins, five draws and suffered four defeats in their first 13 matches of the season to leave them with 17 points.

After missing the playoffs in their inaugural campaign, the team has clearly made some strides forward under Vieira since the Frenchman replaced Jason Kreis as head coach in November, but the embarrassing loss to the Red Bulls served as a stern reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.

"You know what, it was difficult," Vieira told Big Apple Soccer this week after re-watching the 7-0 loss – a result which equalled the MLS record for the largest margin of defeat. "I watched it more than once, to be honest, more than twice because it was important for me to try to understand where we got it wrong.

"It was important for me to understand why we didn't play. It was quite really difficult to put the finger on something specific. It was more different things put together. It was a no match for us. I give a lot of credit to the Red Bulls. I respect the way they came and approached the game. At the same time we made it really easy for them."

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