The initial injury and the setbacks
On March 11th, 2015, in the 7-0 win at home that sent Shakhtar Donetsk back to the Ukraine with their tails between their legs, Franck Ribery picked up a knock on his right ankle, and had to be substituted off at the hour mark. The initial prognosis by the now resigned medical staff was a mere ankle sprain, with an expected three or four-day layoff.
A week later, the Frenchman rejoined the team in practice, only to be forced to cut it short because of pain. Inflammation of the joint was the diagnosis, which would keep the winger out for another three weeks before trying to get some running in, only to have to abort again. Special orthopedic shoes were tried at the beginning of May, which didn't improve the situation.
And the hits just keep on coming
With the Frenchman still holding out hope that he would be ready to go at the start of training camp, reports came out last week that the conservative approach had been deemed unsuccessful, and the joint needed to be immobilized.
But, as kicker now reports, the cast on his right leg that is keeping the ankle from moving is expected to stay on for four weeks. Considering that training camp for non-national team players begins on July 1 (national team players come back on July 10), he is now certain to miss that.
Even if everything goes according to plan, a four to six-week conditioning/rehab program is expected to be required to get the 32-year old veteran back into game-playing shape once the cast has been removed, and that pushes the winger's availability out to August 7th, in the best-case scenario, which would cause him to miss the first official game, a DFB Pokal match visit at FC Nöttingen. If the full six weeks are required, and assuming there are no setbacks, August 21st would be the projected return date, which would mean missing the first two Bundesliga games (opponents not yet determined).
Understandably, Franck Ribery is frustrated and has admitted that his vacation time has been anything but relaxing, due to his concerns about the injury. According to Bild, he doesn't have to worry about losing money, as they are reporting that his €12 million a year salary is guaranteed, but for a player of his stature, going hungry is the least of his concerns right now.
Bayern's personnel situation
So, where does that leave Bayern Munich? Speculations about finding replacements for Ribery and his Dutch compatriot on the other wing, Arjen Robben, have already been rampant in the media, and among Bayern fans, considering the ages and injury histories of the dynamic duo. But this latest news will surely turn the heat up even more on Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Matthias Sammer, and Michael Reschke to find a suitable alternative, not only for the future, but for the upcoming season.