FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The status of Gonzalo Higuain has been a talking point ever since the weekend, and Phil Neville provided an update as to what role to expect from the star striker in the short-term future.
Inter Miami is gearing up to play its in-state rival Orlando City in the latest edition of the Sunshine Clasico on Friday, and it seems unlikely that Higuain plays a significant role if any at all. The Argentine was surprisingly omitted from the South Florida side’s travel roster for this past weekend’s 1-0 road loss to D.C. United in order to work on his fitness, and that process is still ongoing.
“(Higuain and Rodolfo Pizarro) joined in the first 15 minutes of training today,” said Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville in the club’s first in-person availability of the season on Tuesday. “We call it return-to-play scenario, where they just started to slowly get integrated back into the team. With it being Tuesday, still a lot of boxes for them to tick in terms of selection and availability for Friday.”
Neville added that he and Higuain came to the decision of having the forward work towards getting back to peak physical levels together. The Englishman said Higuain had suffered a “knock on his leg” a month ago, forcing the joint-team captain to lose out on four to five days of training.
“You think about sprinting, turning, acceleration, box-to-box running, kicking the ball, these are all boxes that you need to tick to be 100 percent and before D.C. he was not that,” said Neville.
Just when the 33-year-old Higuain is expected to be at top conditioning levels is unclear, but that is the goal he and Inter Miami are striving for.
“He wants to be a success in this league and he wants to leave a legacy at this football club,” said Neville. “We spoke about that with him and he is the driving force behind this, about him being at absolute peak physical condition, mental condition, to be able to be the Gonzalo Higuain that we love.”
Here are more notes from Inter Miami camp:
Matuidi talks how he dealt with MLS investigation
Blaise Matuidi was in eye of the storm at the start of the season, but he stated Tuesday that he remained concentrated on the task at hand.
Matuidi spoke to the press for the first time since 2020, and the Frenchman touched on how he dealt with the difficult circumstances that came with the months-long investigation that MLS launched into his signing with Inter Miami.
“For me, the most important is to be great on the field and that was not my part so I was focused on the pitch,” said the midfielder in English. “I think just for my family (it was tough), but at the end I explained to them and that is it. For me it is most important to be better on the field and try to do my best for the team.
“Afterwards the club resolved the things with the league, so it is the past now.”
Neville expecting red cards to be rescinder
Inter Miami lost two starters to sending offs this past Saturday, but Phil Neville believes both will be made available for Friday’s showdown.
Neville stated that he thinks that MLS will reverse the decisions referee Fotis Bazakos made when the head official sent off Gregore and Ryan Shawcross in the defeat to D.C. United. Gregore was dismissed in the 56th minute with a second yellow card after a tackle on Kevin Paredes near the sidelines while Shawcross was given a straight red for knocking Joseph Mora to the ground.
Inter Miami has only officially asked for a review of Gregore’s ejection given that teams are limited to just two appeals per season, so any overturn on the ruling of Shawcross’ foul would be done at Major League Soccer’s behest.
“I expect both red cards to be rescinded. That is my expectation,” said Neville. “I think the dialogue we have had with the league has been really positive. … I am expecting a fully fit squad with hopefully Gregore and Ryan available.”
- Robbie Robinson was seen back in training on Tuesday doing individual work with a trainer and without a ball. Neville said the winger, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury, is still out for the next two games.
- As first reported by SBI, Sami Guediri is also still recovering from an injury. Neville said Guediri would be out for a bit without providing an exact timetable for the left back’s return.
- Neville said he hopes to have summer reinforcements Kieran Gibbs and Nick Marsman available for the game against the New York Red Bulls on July 17. Visa issues have delayed the arrivals of the left back and goalkeeper, who Neville said he sees “as the only business” the team will be making during this upcoming transfer window.