By Michael Lewis Editor

New York City FC’s not-to-secret weapon is improving day by day.

Heber, who returned from a knee injury he suffered last year, has hardly played since returning last month. He has performed 36 minutes over three games heading into Sunday’s Hudson River Derby 1 p.m. match against the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.

“Heber is looking better and better every day,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said during a Zoom conference call with the media Friday. “Today he had a really good training. Looked sharper. Now it’s a year since he had the operation. So, my experience is like the one year after you are where you should be to get going. So, I think we’ll see more and more of Heber in the next games. That’s, of course, a top, top player that everybody is looking forward to see the best time.”

The Brazilian striker returned for the final nine minutes of the 3-3 home draw with FC Dallas Sept. 14. He played 22 minutes in a 1-0 defeat to the Red Bulls Sept. 25 and then another five minutes in a 2-0 loss at the Chicago Fire Sept. 29.

Heber broke in with a bang in 2019, connecting for 15 goals and four assists in 22 games. He dropped to a goal and two assists before injuring his knee last season.

As for another player who is injured, but won’t be playing any time soon, right back Anton Tinnerholm attended NYCFC training Friday. Tinnerholm suffered an Achilles injury in a scoreless draw with Nashville SC Oct. 3.

“He has to stay very calm,” Deila said, adding that Tinnerholm should be mostly bed-ridden for about six weeks.

Tinnerholm wears a special device on his foot to help movement.

“I don’t know what to call it in English, but something to have the leg on and look like a bike almost to the leg,” Deila said. “It’s to help him so to [be] moving around at the same time also keep the leg calm.

“But we want to have him as much as possible as close as possible to the team, and he wants the same. He came over today to ask about to have things to do to help the team and be a part of the team in this period we going into. … His experience and his personality, we really need, even though we can’t use him on the pitch.”