FC Bayern München's hopes of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League have taken a further blow with Lukas Podolski ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.
The German international forward limped out of training yesterday with what was suspected to be a minor problem, but a scan has revealed damaged cartilage in his left knee. He will undergo surgery in Augsburg today and is expected to be missing for the next three months, also ruling him out of Germany's UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifiers against San Marino and Slovakia on 2 and 6 June.
"He will be back at the beginning of the new season," said Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness. The 21-year old has scored four goals in 22 league games since joining Bayern from 1. FC Köln, his struggles mirroring those of his club who are fourth in the Bundesliga and five points away from claiming one of the three UEFA Champions League berths available for German sides. Bayern, who have four games left this campaign, have not missed out on Europe's top club competition since 1996/97.
Central defender Valérien Ismaël will also miss the remainder of Bayern's campaign after the club decided to bring forward an operation to remove a metal plate from his foot, which was inserted as part of surgery on a broken shin. The Frenchman had recently returned to first-team action with a substitute appearance against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 15 April but, with further complications arising, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has decided to let the 31-year old have the operation "so he has the chance to fully prepare for next season". He should be fit again by the start of the 2007/08 campaign.
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