Josh Gatt of Molde
Getty Images

American Exports: Molde winger Josh Gatt to undergo second ACL surgery, aim for 2015 return

AMSTERDAM – With American wing terror Josh Gatt set to undergo surgery for a second torn anterior cruciate ligament, current Tippeligaen leaders Molde have set a target of getting Gatt back to his best in time for the 2015 preseason.

The 22-year-old Michigan native has not appeared for club or country since initially injuring his left knee in a league win over Sarpsborg 08 last June and re-injured the knee back in March. Gatt has returned to Norway to see a specialist and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday, May 14, to repair the same ligament for the second time in less than a year, but Molde are optimistic about his chances of recovering.

"It is a clean ACL injury this time, no other injuries," Molde medical chief Lars Håvard Sæbø told on Monday. "I think despite having had this a second time, when it comes to performance, I think he can be as sharp as he was before. This is something we have discussed with him."

The doctor also pointed to the American's oft-mentioned positive attitude and work ethic in backing Gatt to regain the attributes that have made him stand out in the past – most notably the dizzying speed and aggressively slicing dribbles that put fear into defenders.

"If he was in his 30s, that is when they lose these things," offered Sæbø. "Josh is in his early 20s, so I think he will have his speed back."

If Gatt's recovery goes as planned, a theoretical best-case scenario might allow him to return to training this fall near the end of the Norwegian season. However, Molde are choosing to time Gatt's rehab efforts in order to have the US international fully fit when next preseason begins in February 2015.

"His focus is for next season," Sæbø stated. "We're not going to rush him in an effort to see him play this season."

Already a two-time league champion in Norway, Gatt has notched eight goals and 12 assists in 67 career Molde appearances across all competitions. In 2012, the attacker was ranked 10th in the season's cumulative match ratings by Norwegian daily Aftenposten.