AMSTERDAM — Europa League entrants Hannover 96 are starting preseason without injured captain Steve Cherundolo, but say they are crossing fingers that the American stalwart will be fit for Bundesliga opening day.
The US international suffered an ankle ligament injury early in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, leaving on just 11 minutes shortly after getting mixed up in a tackle by teammate Jermaine Jones on Mexico's Giovani dos Santos.
This week, the Reds medical staff determined that the setback was not as bad as they first feared, giving manager Mirko Slomka hope his skipper and regular right back could join full team training by the end of July.
"We think maybe it will be four weeks," Hannover press officer Bernd Reiser told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. "It could be six weeks, but Steve usually [returns quickly]. We think he can make it for the Bundesliga start."
Upon recovery, Cherundolo will be taking part in his 14th season with Hannover, making him the second-longest serving active Bundesliga one-club man behind Eintracht Frankfurt 'keeper Oka Nikolov.
Having set a club best with a fourth-place finish last term in the Bundesliga, Die Roten will kick off the new Bundesliga season with an August 6 visit from Hoffenheim.