BERLIN: Stuttgart captain Christian Gentner could make a shock return against Borussia Dortmund on Friday, just two months after a nightmare collision left him with horrific facial injuries and concussion.
The 32-year-old fractured his eye socket, nose and upper jaw when the knee of Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels smashed into his face while challenging for the ball during a Bundesliga match in September.
Only the quick thinking of Stuttgart's team doctor saved Gentner's life on the pitch after he swallowed his tongue.
The midfielder needed two operations to repair the damage to his face, but has been training with a protective mask and is in line for a call-up to face Dortmund.
"We have a few more training sessions, but if everything goes well until then, he could play," Stuttgart coach Hannes Wolf told German press agency DPA.
"He has trained a lot and worked with the team, not just on his own, and has also headed the ball. There would be no reason to delay it."
The ex-Germany international recovered quicker than expected and could boost mid-table Stuttgart against third-placed Dortmund, who are winless in their last four Bundesliga games.
Peter Bosz's Dortmund badly need an away win ahead of next Tuesday's home Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur, who are already into the last 16, while the Germans have only a slim chance of progressing.
Gentner, who made five appearances for Germany in 2009 and 2010, says he would be comfortable playing with the mask.
"It doesn't affect me, I have got used to it," he told Kicker.