Vieira discusses Lampard’s injury, possible replacements

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Frank Lampard went from being cast as the worst Designated Player signing in MLS history to an indispensable part of New York City FC’s Championship run.

Now, NYCFC will have to learn to live without “Super Frank” once more as it approaches the playoff stretch run.

“We are looking at 3-4 weeks (recovery),” NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira said. “Of course, it is a disappointment. Frank was doing really well for us. We will be without him for 3-4 weeks and that is a big blow of course.”

The club announced Lampard’s calf injury and recovery timeline on Friday evening. While Lampard was sidelined with a calf injury earlier in the year, NYCFC say that it is not a re-aggravation of the previous injury.

Lampard returned from his previous injury on June 21, debuting in the now historic 7-0 loss to the Red Bulls. After making three substitute appearances, Lampard became a fixture in the starting XI. Since June 18, he has made 15 starts, scoring 12 goals in that timeframe. Moreover, NYCFC improved to 8-4-3 with Lampard in the lineup (they are 4-5-6 without him).

“Since Frank came back from injuries, we scored a lot of goals and the team played much better,” Vieira acknowledges. “We will have to do without him.

“It is always difficult to lose a player who has had such a massive impact in the way we have been playing the last few months. I feel sorry for him because he worked really hard and to get injured at that period of the season is not easy to deal with.”

The team has several options to replace Lampard, according to Vieira. The NYCFC boss mentioned the possibility of shifting either Jack Harrison or Tommy McNamara to a more central role, and finding minutes for Steven Mendoza on either wing.

No matter what the solution becomes, the loss of Lampard will undoubtedly leave a huge gap in the NYCFC starting XI.

“You have no idea how hard he has been working the last few months. He received a lot of criticism and in the world where we are, people (can) say if it is fair or not fair,” Vieira said. “He put his head down, worked every single day and the way he has been playing and the goals scored reflects how hard he is working. That is why I feel sorry for him. If there is somebody who deserves to be on the field and express his talent, it’s Frank.

“He will come back even stronger and have a massive impact on us again.”