Bobby Convey's first season with Sporting Kansas City has not gone according to plan, with a series of leg injuries forcing him to miss half of the club's games so far.
The season isn't quite over yet, though. After returning to full training for the first time since early August, the veteran left winger still has a chance to be a factor in Sporting's push for a second straight Eastern Conference regular-season title and a deep run in the MLS Cup playoffs.
“There are four [regular-season] games left. It's time to come back,” Convey told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session. “There's not much left in the season, and nobody's 100 percent right now.”
Convey has missed seven league games and the US Open Cup final since straining his right hamstring early in Sporting's 1-0 win at New England on Aug. 4. Before that, he was out for eight MLS matches with a nagging series of calf strains.
His teammates are glad to see him out on the training pitch again, too.“It's been a difficult year, because I've had two major muscle pulls that have taken a while to recover from,” he said. “It wasn't really what I was expecting was going to happen this year. I expected to play a lot more than I have, but it is what it is, and I'm ready to get back.”
“It's like getting a new player again,” said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. “He was new when he came in here, was very good at the beginning of the season, did a great job. Unfortunately, he's been out for a while with an injury. Now we get a new Bobby back again.”
When Convey can return to the 18 still remains to be seen. He'd like to be there when Sporting host second-place Chicago on Friday night, but manager Peter Vermes is taking a cautious approach.
“I couldn't tell you right now,” Vermes said. “I don't want to all of a sudden say, 'Hey, get into a game.' That doesn't make sense either. I'd like to see him get more opportunity here as we go forward. It'd be great to get him into some of the games late in the season and then into the playoffs, to have him available at least.”
The team also has been careful not to rush Convey back into training, Vermes said.
“Only time will tell, but I think we've done a pretty good job of keeping him away for a while to build him up,” Vermes said. “So when he comes back, it's not like something else is going to nag.”
Whether it's against the Fire, further down the stretch or in the playoffs, Convey is just anxious to get back into game action.
“When you're out for so long, you just want to come in and play,” he said. “Even if you just play five minutes, it's better than just sitting on a bike or rehabbing.”