FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Andrew Farrell went into his weekly checkup with an eye specialist last Friday afternoon optimistically hoping for good news.
He got it.
Initially given a return date of April 7 – eight weeks after rupturing the retina in his left eye in a freak incident on the training ground – Farrell was given full medical clearance a little more than three weeks ahead of schedule, clearing the way for him to return to full training and push for his 2019 debut.
“It’s good. All clear. 100 percent,” Farrell said earlier this week, unable to contain a smile. “I feel great. I’m happy to be back in full training with the team and being involved with the guys. I’m looking forward to this weekend.”
This weekend is the New England Revolution’s first-ever meeting with FC Cincinnati, and Farrell wants to be involved. He’ll need to wear protective eyewear for the next month or so as a precaution, and he admits that he’s a little shy of full match fitness, but he’s working hard to get where he needs to be.
Bedridden for two-plus weeks after the initial injury Farrell lost a bit of sharpness, but he’s been active the past three weeks, running and passing even before being medically cleared.
“He was able to do a lot of fitness (while out), so I think it’s just some match fitness, if you like, and training with the players and being able to get into contact,” said head coach Brad Friedel. “I think the first few times he had to head a ball was a bit unnerving for him, but he’ll be fine.
“We’ll check him out this week, but I don’t think there should be any really big issues, because he did get about three-and-a-half weeks of preseason under his belt before he had this injury.”
As much as Farrell hated being away from the game during his extended spell on the sidelines, he says the worst part was simply being away from his teammates, particularly as they spent a two-week training stint in Bradenton, Florida, while he was bedridden at home.
That’s why getting back on the road this past weekend – a surprise addition to the match-day squad in Toronto – was so critical for Farrell’s mentality, even if it was a longshot he’d see the field.
“I think it was important for me, just because I’ve been out of it,” Farrell said. “I missed the whole second half of preseason, and then when they were out (at training), I was either riding the bike or I was doing running on my own.
“Just being incorporated with the team and getting to know the guys even more – the newer guys – it was great this weekend. I’m looking forward to continuing to work towards full fitness for this weekend.”
By the time Sunday rolls around Farrell will have had six days of full training, and the veteran right back is hoping that’ll be enough to have him match fit for the meeting with Cincinnati.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Farrell, noting that he needed to adjust to the speed of training when he rejoined the group last week. “Obviously, I’m excited to be back in with the team this week. We’ll see how that goes. If not, I’ll keep going and keep going until I’m ready to join and help out the team.”