First Team

Progress on road to recovery

VfL striker Lukas Nmecha is taking plenty more steps – literally and metaphorically – on the comeback trail at the training camp in Almancil.

Lukas Nmecha vom VfL Wolfsburg bearbeitet einen Boxsack im Trainingslager Almancil.

Lukas Nmecha’s tale of woe is a long one with many chapters. After breaking his ankle at the end of 2021 and missing eight league games, he was then hit with persistent patella tendon problems barely a year later. Last season, the German international striker managed just 18 appearances in the league and the DFB Cup combined.

The 25-year-old was therefore keen to get this season under way with the cup clash away to Makkabi Berlin and even scored the opening goal of the game before the patella tendon issues returned just before half-time. It meant that surgery was by then the only option, and Nmecha is still recovering from going under the knife.

At the team’s training camp in Almancil however, the forward has been cutting an optimistic figure, always with a smile on his face as he racks up the laps around the pitch. It will be a while before he can return to full training with the rest of the team, but he does not fear any recurrences of the problem.

“Still a way to go”

Nmecha, who went through Manchester City’s youth system, first got back to running around a week before the squad headed out to Portugal, and he has since added ball work to his training sessions. “Starting and stopping has already got a lot easier, and I’m moving through the levels now, step by step… but I’ve still got a way to go,” he explains.

“Only when it feels right”

It is difficult to put an exact date on his return – both to full training with the team and to getting back to Bundesliga action – due to the severity of his injury, although he is hoping to be ready “some time around the end of February… but only when it feels right”, he adds, keen not to put any pressure on himself.

Optimistic for the second half of the season

Nmecha is also anxious not to have expectations heaped on him as the team look to do better in the second half of the season. “We didn’t have a very good first half – we regularly showed what we’re capable of but then we eased off,” he says of the team’s lack of consistency that was reflected in their results. “Jonas [Wind] is helping us with his goals but we do have a lot of players with the ability to really shine here.” Nmecha is confident that he has plenty of team-mates capable of getting on the scoresheet, and as such “we’re all very optimistic for the second half of the season”.