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Injury clouds lift

Van Buyten and Contento close to fitness

Two weeks after breaking his nose while playing for Croatia, Ivica Olic made a brief comeback against his former club Hamburg in Friday evening’s Bundesliga match. The striker came on as a sub four minutes from time, and played to the end in a protective mask. On Saturday, he laid the face protector to one side and trained without it.

“Olic is back, after a fashion,” explained Louis van Gaal, “but he’ll still have to play in the mask, and that’s difficult.” Nevertheless, Olic is the first of the ten-strong injury roster to recover match fitness. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Mark van Bommel, Miroslav Klose, Daniel van Buyten, Diego Contento, David Alaba, Breno and number three keeper Rouven Sattelmaier remain sidelined.

“I think Van Buyten and maybe also Contento are the first players likely to be back,” Van Gaal revealed in Hamburg. However, the head coach declined to say whether either or both might play a role in Tuesday’s DFB Cup second round meeting with Werder Bremen, or in next Friday’s league encounter at home to Freiburg.

Ribéry needs two more weeks

On Saturday, Van Buyten (back) completed some sections of the workout laid on for the players who did not feature in Hamburg. Contento was not on the training ground, but did take part in some of the exercise routines on Thursday. Van Gaal will give an update on the injury situation at Monday afternoon’s scheduled news conference.

Also speaking in Hamburg, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge passed on the latest news regarding superstars Ribéry and Robben. “It’ll still be another two weeks in Franck Ribéry’s case. With Arjen Robben, we’ll have to be patient until Christmas,” the FCB chairman said.