Berlin: Borussia Dortmund are in the grip of an injury crisis coming into their home clash with Freiburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday and with a Champions League clash with Arsenal just around the corner.
With Marco Reus, Nuri Sahin and Jakub Blaszczykowski among those already out, captain Mats Hummels struggling for fitness and Ciro Immobile a minor doubt, the last thing coach Jurgen Klopp needed was the news that Shinji Kagawa had to withdraw from training on Thursday with a groin problem.
Against Freiburg, the Japanese star is hoping to make his first appearance since returning to the Signal-Iduna Park following a disappointing spell at Manchester United.
Kagawa won two league titles in his first spell at the club between 2010 and 2012 and Klopp hopes to use the 25-year-old straight away.
"I have a good feeling that the atmosphere on Saturday and the joy of our supporters can spur him on," Klopp said on Thursday, although he admitted that a place on the bench may be the best Kagawa can hope for.
There is a need to have Kagawa fit after Reus injured his ankle again in Germany`s Euro 2016 qualifying win over Scotland last Sunday, ruling him out for around four weeks, and after last season`s runners-up loaned Jonas Hofmann to Mainz.
"We can`t wait another couple of weeks," said Klopp, whose side host Arsenal in Champions League Group D on Tuesday. "Shinji is already very important for us."Elsewhere on Saturday, champions Bayern Munich will have Franck Ribery back as they go looking for a second win in three matches against VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena.
The game will be Bayern`s first in a run of seven matches in 22 days, which also includes Champions League ties against Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.
Pep Guardiola`s side, who drew 1-1 at Schalke last time out, can call on French winger Ribery again after the 31-year-old announced he was over a knee problem.
"I feel good and I`m ready for Saturday," Ribery said. "Now I need to find my rhythm again."
Visitors Stuttgart drew at Borussia Moenchengladbach on the opening weekend before going down to a disappointing home defeat against newly-promoted Cologne last time out.
"With the quality of their individual players, we can`t match Bayern," Stuttgart coach Armin Veh admitted.
"But obviously we`re not going to Munich to freely give up the points. We`re going to try and bring something back with us."
Early leaders Bayer Leverkusen will look to make it three wins from three when they host Werder Bremen at the BayArena on Friday evening.
Germany midfielder Lars Bender is available for the home team after missing the World Cup through injury, but Simon Rolfes and Julian Brandt will be absent against a Werder team that has drawn both their league matches so far.
"The key to success will be our own game," said Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt, whose side meet Monaco in the Champions League next midweek.
"What`s important is that we quickly get back into our system and build on our performances so far."
Germany`s other Champions League representative, Schalke, go to still-unbeaten Moenchengladbach on Saturday evening, while Paderborn will look to continue their good start to life in the top flight when they host fellow newly-promoted side Cologne.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1330 GMT unless stated)
Bayer Leverkusen v Werder Bremen (1830)
Bayern Munich v VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund v Freiburg, Hoffenheim v VfL Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin v Mainz 05, Paderborn v Cologne, Borrusia Moenchengladbach v Schalke 04 (1630)
Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg, Hanover 96 v Hamburg (1530)