By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal expect Lukas Podolski to make a December return from a ‘horror’ hamstring injury that experts have described as one of the worst of its kind.
The Germany international has not played since tearing his hamstring against Fenerbahce at the end of August.
He is finally back on the comeback trail, however, and Arsenal have targeted the home fixture against Everton on December 8 as a realistic aim for his return.
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It is understood that the 28-year-old suffered a complete separation of the muscle in his left leg as the injury turned out to be far more serious than originally feared.
One expert who examined the German is believed to have described the injury as “horrific” and “the worst hamstring strain he had ever seen”.
Arsenal decided to allow the muscle to heal naturally by itself rather than take the option of surgery, which could have kept Podolski out for up to six months.
Arsene Wenger initially said the forward would be out for between eight and 10 weeks after he limped out of the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce on August 27.
Dr Hans Muller-Wolfhart then ran further tests as he examined Podolski on behalf of the Germany national team, with the player subsequently admitting the injury would keep him out for longer than expected.
“Unfortunately, I’ll be out for a longer while, around three months,” said the former Bayern star.
Target dates for Podolski’s return have kept changing over the last six weeks. At one stage, the healing process was going so well that Arsenal had hoped the forward would be fit to return for the league game against Norwich City on October 19, which was after the last international break.
But it now appears that his first-team return will come nearly three-and-a-half months after he sustained the original injury.
Podolski stepped up his rehabilitation last week by running outdoors at Arsenal’s London Colney training base although he has not yet begun any ball work and is regarded as some way off returning to full contact training.