The cloud hanging over VfB Stuttgart following Saturday's 4-1 loss to 1. FC Nürnberg has grown darker after striker Pavel Pogrebnyak was ruled out of Thursday's meeting with SL Benfica.
The Russian international, scorer of 14 goals this season, fractured his rib in training on Tuesday and will be out for an unspecified period. It is a major blow to the Swabians, whose weekend home defeat left them four points adrift of safety in the Bundesliga, with relegation a serious prospect.
Stuttgart's UEFA Europa League campaign has been the silver lining to the season, but a tough trip to Portugal for their Round of 32 tie got tougher with news that Pogrebnyak will not make the journey. Arthur Boka has already been ruled out until April with a torn knee ligament and Christian Gentner and Timo Gebhart are doubtful with ankle problems. The second leg takes place next Thursday.
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