As we enter the final stretch of matches before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, any injury news can be catastrophic to both fans and players. And, according to a report from Goal.com's Alec Fenn, Brussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan is the latest international to fall victim to the injury bug.
Per Fenn, the back injury that has plagued the midfielder for the duration of this season will keep him from travelling to Brazil with his German teammates. Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp was quoted, saying:
"Ilkay will not play at the World Cup. It is very hard for him to deal with. His back is better, it is all good, but it takes time to recover completely. We just have to wait."
Jan Aage Fjortoft confirmed:
As shared by ESPN's Alex Shaw, the World Cup isn't the only thing Gundogan could potentially miss:
The 23-year-old has been with Borussia since 2011 and has shown steady progress every season there, and the German international was expected to step up this season as teammate Mario Goetze made the move to Bayern Munich.
A chronic back injury held the player back all season, however, and it would now appear doctors have advised the midfielder to let the injury heal ahead of the next campaign.
Fortunately, Sky Sports reports Sami Khedira appears likely to compete in the tournament, but he will still need time to shake off the rust and establish rhythm. As a result, the German squad suddenly has questions surrounding its central midfielders available. While depth at the position is not an issue with Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil all available, both Khedira and Gundogan still figured to play big roles for their team.
As much as it must hurt to miss such an enormous event for your country, Gundogan must now focus on his health. And if the added rest of not playing in the World Cup can ensure these back problems stay away for the remainder of his career, he'll look back on this decision as the only one that made sense.