Heber has scofed 16 goals in 34 matches for NYCFC. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Don’t hold your breath in Heber returning to play for New York City FC anytime soon.

NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said Wednesday that the Brazilian striker, recuperating from a knee injury suffered last year, could be back during the summer.

Heber is in Brazil, “having a good training there,” Deila said during a Zoom conference call, adding the forward will join the MLS team when it return from Florida March 27.

“He will be available to play around June, July, around there, I think, maybe, worst case August,” Deila said.

Heber recorded 16 goals and six assists in 34 games over the past two seasons.

Midfielder Gedion Zelalem, whose option was declined at the end of the 2020 MLS season but re-signed with the club March 8, has been battling knee problems.

“He has been struggling a lot with his knee surgery,” Deila said. “He’s still not training the team, but it goes much better now. He’s very happy now that he doesn’t have any pain. So now he has done more change of directions, starts with high intensity runs more. So, he has to do that for a week or two more and if everything goes good.

“He’s a really good player. But he needs to be injury free over time so you can get to work with him. His knee has been a big problem for him for the last three years. Hopefully, they find the solution. The pain is away, and that he can get back his physical shape that he had three years ago.”

Center back Alexander Callens, who now doesn’t have to report to Peru national team training because South American World Cup qualifying has been postponed, has battled a probable calf issue, according to Deila.

“He will be ready to train full [time] with the team on Monday, Tuesday, again,” he said. “Of course, he’s been an important player for a team for many years. And I want him to develop even more. I think he had a good season last year, together with Maxime [Chanot], but they can both take another step together and do something, so we concede less goals than we did last year.”