July 20, 2012
Tainio targets next week for his return, Backe points to Tottenham game July 31
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Teemu Tainio: ďI wouldnít be too much surprised if Iím with the team next weekend."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. Ė Having played just three games this season due to a knee injury, it has been a frustrating 2012 for Red Bulls midfielder Teemu Tainio. But a light appears to be at the end of the tunnel for the former Finnish international who is nearing a return to the pitch.
Tainio has been training with the team this week, an amplification of the fitness work and light jogging that began earlier this month. While Tainio still isnít participating fully in training, he is closing in on regaining the sharpness and fitness that helped make him one of the best midfielders in the league last season.
ďI wouldnít be too much surprised if Iím with the team next weekend,Ē Tainio said following training on Friday at Montclair State University.
ďFitness wise Iíve been working hard the past two, three weeks. Like I said, Iím feeling pretty good. Next week, I have a full week with the team. Maybe the weekend game maybe [I can play] a little bit of a part of it.Ē
Coach Hans Backe has lamented the loss of the hard working Tainio, whose vision and tenacity in the midfield he has praised. But Backe was a bit more cautious in his prognosis of a timetable for the return of the midfielder, eyeing perhaps the friendly match against Tottenham on July 31.
ďLittle bit too early," he said. "I would guess that it probably, it would be nice of course, but I would guess more likely he would do 45 against Spurs. I would guess, but you never know. I mean, if heís in, he hasnít been in a full session with us. Heís just been floater in the technical training sessions, so the competitive session, we havenít seen that yet. And perhaps Wednesday will be the first time next week. Itís a little bit too short to do Wednesday, Thursday and soft Friday and then be ready or be on the bench, but I guess if he does respond well, Spurs, 45 minutes is realistic.Ē
Tainio opted for injections and rehab for his knee over surgery, a move that helped speed up his return to the field. In fact last month, Backe said that if Tainio had opted for surgery itíd likely be the end of his career.
That wasnít the case, Tainio said.
ďI donít know where he picked up career ending," he said. "Even if I had the operation itíd be six months, and Iím 32 and I can still play a year or two. I donít agree in that case.
ďThat of course was the last option, to have surgery. So we went to England to see a specialist and have some injection in my knee and it seems to work. Iím pleased that it worked so I wouldnít have had to have surgery.Ē
And now at 32-years-old, Tainio is hoping for a return to the field but he is open to extending his stay in New York beyond two years.
ďIíve been out for three months so Iím sort of happy to be back now. Letís see how it goes from here but I donít have problems to stay here and I like it here and I like the team and the league is fun to play,Ē Tainio said. ďAll the options are open.Ē
Follow BigAppleSoccer.comís Contributing Editor Kristian R. Dyer