It is “not forseeable” when Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will make his first-team return, according to sporting director Michael Zorc.
Gundogan, 23, has been sidelined with a back injury since mid-August 2013 but returned to training late in 2013, and joined Dortmund on their winter training camp in Spain earlier this month.
The Germany international initially joined teammates and it had been hoped he would be ready to help Juergen Klopp’s side in 2014.
However, Gundongan then contracted bronchitis and has not trained with the squad since.
And Zorc is not hopeful that the midfielder, a reported transfer target for Manchester United and Real Madrid, will return any time soon
“We have to hang on,” Zorc told kicker. “It’s not foreseeable when we’ll be able to count on him again.”
Dortmund coach Klopp added that they have already written their holding midfielder off for the first three games of the second half of the Bundesliga season.
Meanwhile, Klopp rejected rumours in Italian press linking Inter Milan center-back Andrea Ranocchia with a move to Westphalia.
“Not that I know,” Klopp told Sueddeutsche Zeitung when asked about Ranocchia. “No clue, let’s see.”
Dortmund, who are currently fourth in the Bundesliga and 12 points behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich, face FC Augsburg on Saturday.