Héber receiving his clearance to return to full training after an 11-month absence due to an ACL injury was some of the best news NYCFC fans have had in quite a while. The video of the Brazilian forward doing a leg workout and receiving the unexpected news is definitely one to make even the most hardened onlooker a bit misty in the eyes.
But don’t get too excited.
While Héber’s return to full training is awesome news and something to be happy about, he is still a ways off from returning to the pitch and making a contribution.
In a presser ahead of City’s home meeting against the MLS-leading New England Revolution on Saturday evening, manager Ronny Deila was quick to temper expectations in regards to Héber’s on-field return.
“We’re gonna take time,” Deila told the media Friday. “[Héber’s] having his first training now, so I don’t think [it will be] for a month, maybe two months before he will be among us.”
It’s not all bad news, though. Should Héber’s recovery go well, he is expected to be a major player for NYCFC in the playoffs according to Deila.
“If he can come in good shape into the playoffs and do a job there, I will be very, very happy with Héber. He hasn’t played football for over a year, and it may take some time to get to the highest level as well. It’s about getting back in training, get consistency in training, and get[ting] his sharpness back again. So we’ll see in training, and games of course, and see when he’s ready to play. But it will take time.”
In Héber’s long absence, Taty Castellanos has been the only striker at NYCFC’s disposal. To this point, Castellanos has been more than decent in place of the Brazilian and has established himself as one of the top forwards in all of MLS. The only thing Taty lacks is the ability to consistently finish — everything else in his locker is elite.
Hopefully, Héber can surprise City’s staff and make a return sooner than expected as depth at striker is desperately needed. Regardless, it’s good to know that Deila and his team are making sure not to rush him out of the gate and ensure his safety.