Borussia Dortmund's hopes of defending their Bundesliga title took a severe hit on Tuesday when the club confirmed that star playmaker Mario Gotze will miss six to eight weeks due to a hip injury.
The 19-year-old has been struggling with a persistent groin problem since December, and further evaluation from BVB team doctor Markus Braun, which was later confirmed by Germany doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, found that the cartilage in Gotze's hip had inflamed under stress.
The official Dortmund website revealed that the player will cease all training for two weeks before resuming a personalised plan with specific rehabilitation exercises. Tentatively, the club believe he might be available to face Augsburg on March 10.
However, Gotze's ailment is more complicated than most common athletic injuries, which typically are repaired by arthroscopic procedures and come with standardised recovery periods.
Speaking exclusively with Goal.com, Mike Dingley, the principal strength and conditioning coach at Harvard University's Malkin Athletic Centre, revealed that the nature of Gotze's injury makes an exact timetable difficult to determine for the player's return.
"With a hip injury like that, which cannot be surgically repaired, it depends on a lot of variables," Dingley said.
"How long he has been dealing with it and whether he has been trying to rehabilitate it, in the last few weeks will determine how long he is out.
"Gotze will want to make sure that he can take the hip through the full range of motion, but with much less impact."
Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben was diagnosed a similar ailment in August, and that, coupled with a groin hernia sustained later in the campaign, kept him out of the starting line-up until mid-November.