Rafinha takes the next step

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Rafinha suffered a partial tear of the ligaments in his left ankle in the Bundesliga home match against Bayer Leverkusen about four weeks ago. The full-back took the next step towards his comeback on Thursday. The 33-year-old completed parts of the squad programme for the first time, warming up and performing passing drills before he continued his individual rehab in the performance centre.

"Finally! I was sidelined for almost four weeks because of my ankle injury, and I was very glad to complete the first few parts of team training. It's good for me," said the Brazilian after training with his team-mates.

Rafinha inreased his workload in the last few days, resuming training with the ball under the auspices of fitness coach Thomas Wilhelmi. "Thank God I'm not too far behind, I'm fit," said the defender. "Of course the situation is different when you haven't been on the pitch for three weeks. But I've worked well with Thomas Wilhelmi, it's going well. I think I'm ready for next week."

Rafinha will further up his workload and ultimately be fully integrated into team training to be available for the next competitive match away to VfL Wolfsburg on 20 October. "I'm very happy to be back on the pitch. And now we'll go full throttle again because we must return to winning ways!"