Jacob Peterson is looking like his old self on the training pitch. Now, Sporting Kansas City are taking a cautious fast track to getting him back into the squad.
“It's still a ways away,” Peterson told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session. “I want to make sure that I have a good preseason, and Peter and the staff here have done a good job of mapping that out. It's still a couple weeks away, but it feels good. These baby steps that we're taking now, I think they'll pay off toward the end of the year.”
Peterson, who underwent offseason surgery to repair his right shoulder, played the wild-card role – always on the attacking side – in small-side games this week.
“He's looking good,” manager Peter Vermes said. “This is the first week he's been allowed to come in and be around a little of the contact. He was going at it like I knew he would.”
Peterson, who joined Sporting before the 2012 season and scored a career-high four goals last season, didn't shy away from shoulder-to-shoulder challenges in his return to training.
“I landed on it a few times, and the shoulder feels strong,” he said. “Now the ligaments are healed and now it's just getting my legs back under me and getting used to the speed and the pace of the game.”
While Sporting haven't set a hard-and-fast timetable for Peterson's return to action, Vermes said Peterson was undergoing a sped-up version of the normal seven-week preseason process.
“We've done a lot of soccer things with him already,” Vermes said. “So that part can be accelerated. But we're not going to say, 'Play a week and you're in.'”
While he's keen to get back as soon as he can, Peterson also expects the club's cautious approach to keep him from reinjuring the shoulder by doing too much, too quickly.
“They always say 'When you feel really good, you should take a couple more weeks,'” he said. “I've been feeling good for about a month now, easing into it. But I think it's a smart decision. I want to make sure I'm not in and out of the training room all year, that this is just a one-time thing. You see so many guys coming in and out of the team because they've been injured, and that's not a cycle I want to get into.”