Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley will miss the first two months of the MLS season with injury, and striker Jozy Altidore responded by stating that he belieces that the club's medical staff handled the situation poorly.
Bradley suffered the ankle injury in the November 10 3-1 MLS Cup defeat to Seattle Sounders, but the MLS club only announced a surgery date for the 32-year-old on Monday.
With Toronto's MLS season beginning on February 29, the skipper is not likely to return until at least June.
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Altidore, who has battled his share of injuries throughout his tenure with the club, believes TFC's medical staff could have dealt with the situation much better.
"In my opinion, it was handled poorly,” Altidore told reporters.
"This is an injury from two months ago and it’s not the first time this happened in terms of … we’ve seen our injury rate at this club (climb) since ’18, and we’re obviously trying to get it better, but it hasn’t.
"Two months have gone by and now he’s having surgery and he’ll be out until June."
It is not known when Bradley suffered the injury during last year's decider against the Sounders, but he played the full 90 minutes in a match that reportedly was going to guarantee him a contract extension at the club on the same money with a victory.
Bradley could return early from injury if his rehabilitation goes well, according to Toronto general manager Ali Curtis.
But Curtis also revealed they wouldn't be taking any chances with their veteran player, who ended up signing a new three-year contract with an option in December - reportedly on less money than what the MLS Cup win would have triggered.
"We are going to be careful and cautious about this," Curtis told reporters.
"But we're confident that once he has the surgery that he'll be able to return to play.
"It'll take probably approximately four months. Now that could be shorter or it could be lengthier depending on how we manage that process."
Toronto FC will have friendly matches against LAFC, LA Galaxy, Chicago and Colorado before commencing their regular season on the road in San Jose.
Bradley's injury issues will also mean he will not be available for the USMNT's friendly matches against Wales and the Netherlands, while he could be in doubt for June's Concacaf Nations League final.