22 September 2014 21:32
Borussia Dortmund face a growing injury crisis ahead of Stuttgart’s Bundesliga visit to Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday.
Forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the latest to be ruled out this week with a foot injury picked up in the disappointing 2-0 setback at Mainz on Saturday.
The 25-year-old was introduced as a substitute for the final 25 minutes at the Coface Arena, but was hurt when involved in a collision taking a shot late in the match and subsequent scans have revealed he will be missing for a month.
Mkhitaryan joins injured Dortmund team-mates Marco Reus (ankle), Nuri Sahin (knee), Jakub Blaszczykowski, Oliver Kirch and Ji Dong-won (all muscle) on the sidelines.
With Dortmund’s squad depleted, long-term back injury victim Ilkay Gundogan may be involved, but he has not played in a competitive fixture in over 12 months and it is unlikely that he could play 90 minutes.
Dortmund’s injury woes come at a bad time for coach Jurgen Klopp, who is hoping to orchestrate a swift response after the disappointing loss to his former club Mainz.
The defeat was Dortmund’s second in the opening four Bundesliga matches this season and followed an excellent display in the 2-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Arsenal.
Close-season signing Ciro Immobile missed a penalty against Mainz when the score was 1-0, but Klopp refused to blame the Italy international for the loss.
“It all went wrong for us, and that’s why we ended up deserved losers,” Klopp noted.
“I didn’t assign anyone to take the penalty. Ciro grabbed the ball and then failed to put it away. It happens.”
Dortmund’s early season form may be patchy, but Stuttgart will need no reminder of the danger that Klopp’s men possess, having been on the end of a 6-1 hammering in the corresponding fixture last term.
Stuttgart finished in a disappointing 15th place in Germany’s top flight in 2013-14.
Huub Stevens did enough in his two-month tenure to keep Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, but the Dutchman announced his departure in May and was replaced by Armin Veh, who returned to the club for a second spell in charge.
However, Stuttgart have taken just a solitary point in a disappointing start to 2014-15 and are bottom after a 2-0 home defeat to rivals Hoffenheim on Saturday.
The poor run of form has led to criticism of director of sport Fredi Bobic, but he has no intention of leaving his role, telling Bild: “Running away does not help anyone. I have never done that.”
Stuttgart have doubts over Vedad Ibisevic (illness) and Georg Niedermeier (groin).