Chuunichi Sports reported in today’s issue that MF Naohiro Ishikawa, who missed the first game of the season w/ inflammation in his left knee, has jumped back into full practice and could make it into the lineup against Urawa Reds this Saturday. Nao took passes at top speed, shook off defenders, and scored a goal off his right foot in an unsual 9-on-9 practice game, and was repeatedly praised by manager Hiroshi Jofuku for his efforts. Jofuku is quoted as saying “Nao’s return is the medicine that the team needs. As soon as he can play at 100% for 90 minutes, our options at midfield look a lot better.”
This is, it goes without saying, a very good thing for the team. Nao’s presence was missed on Saturday and against Urawa the team will need all the weapons it can get a hold of. Obviously putting him back on the field before he’s at full strength is a risk that Jofuku doesn’t – and shouldn’t – want to take, but if Nao feels up to the task then he would certainly be a welcome addition to the starting eleven.