Injured Japan and Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa is building up his body with eight hours of rehabilitation exercises a day, hoping to rejoin the club soon and lift the Bundesliga title. The midfielder, who injured his right foot in the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals and went home before Japan clinched the continental title a month ago, said he wanted to return to Germany in late March and start playing again in mid-April.
"I have no more problem walking. Now I am waiting for the bone to recover," Kagawa, who broke his metatarsal and underwent surgery on 30 January, told today's Nikkan Sports daily. "I plan to go back to Germany when I am able to run."
"It could possibly be around my birthday," said Kagawa, who turns 22 on 17 March. "It will be cool if I can make my comeback in mid-April and win the title. The time will be limited but I want to try and help the final push." With a 12-point lead over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, Dortmund are on course to clinch the title well before the Bundesliga's last round on 14 May.
Kagawa moved to Dortmund from J-League side Cerezo Osaka in July and scored eight goals in 17 Bundesliga games to help propel Dortmund to the top of the table before the winter break. He also bagged four Europa League goals. He missed last year's FIFA World Cup™ as then Japan coach Takeshi Okada made him only a non-playing support member of his squad in South Africa.
About ten Japanese players have moved to European clubs since the tournament, where the Blue Samurai reached the last 16 for their best ever FIFA World Cup on foreign soil. They include pacy left back Yuto Nagatomo, who moved to Cesena from FC Tokyo after the FIFA World Cup, before joining Inter Milan on loan after their Asian Cup triumph.
"I feel frustrated because (Nagatomo) moved to a big club before me. But I feel inspired as well," Kagawa said. "I want to work hard after healing my injury and catch up with him."