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'It's Just A Hand' -- Union Striker Aristeguieta Puts Team Before Appendage

By Kevin Kinkead

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta was absent from training on Tuesday afternoon.

He was having surgery on a hand that fans and media had no idea was broken.

It happened in the second half of Sunday's game at Sporting Kansas City, but there was no gesture to the bench or request for a substitution. The 22-year-old on-loan striker finished the game as if nothing had happened.

"It happened around minute 80, or something like that," Aristeguieta told reporters this week. "I jumped with Ike Opara, and I don't know if he steps on me.. it didn't look very well. The good thing is that I could train."

Aristeguieta says he knew right away that something was wrong.

"It was very painful. At the first moment, what you think is that you don't want to leave your team with 10 men," he continued. "And then, it's just a hand, you know? You play with your feet and handle the pain. The next day we did an X-ray and it was fractured."

He trained this week with padding and tape on his left ring and pinkie fingers. It's a soft brace, wrapped with tape, that keeps those fingers together. It's unclear right now if he'll go with that splint this Saturday against New York City FC, or if he will be fitted with something different.

"We had the surgery, and I trained without pain," he said. "Obviously I trained with protection. I don't know if I'll be able to wear this during the game, but like I said, it's just a hand. I think I'll be able to play."

It seems obvious that the Venezuela native has a bit of Philadelphia toughness in his blood.

And while it's true that soccer players use their feet primarily, there is concern in having a physical forward play with a bum hand.

Jockeying for position and executing good hold-up play often requires a bit of grappling and leverage, which can be difficult to accomplish without the ability to grip with one of your hands.

"Of course you're not able to use it as good as you want, but I don't know," Aristeguieta explained. "I think once you get onto the field you forget everything. You just have to clench your teeth and keep going."

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