Munich - Borussia Dortmund can breathe a sigh of relief with the news that is set to return in Friday night's Bundesliga clash at Eintracht Braunschweig (kick-off 20:30 CET) after two months out injured.
'Fight for the points'
The German international has been sidelined since damaging his heel while on international duty in November, but after returning to training this week, and featuring for an hour in a warm-up game for the reserves, he is available for coach Jürgen Klopp.
"The impressions have been positive so far," said Klopp. "He's looking really good." Should the 25-year-old return, it would be a major boost for Dortmund, particularly after losing Jakub Blaszczykowski for the rest of the season to a serious knee injury. And good news is certainly what Dortmund are after having dropped ten points in their last four matches to fall 17 points adrift of league leaders FC Bayern München.
Dortmund's last win was a 3-1 triumph at 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the end of November. Since then, they have picked up only two points and a further failure could see them drop out of the top four this weekend. "We're going to fight for these three points," said Klopp, rolling up his sleeves in the manner he expects his players to at the Eintracht Stadion.
Braunschweig not a support act
They will need grit and determination to beat a side buoyed by a 0-0 draw against SV Werder Bremen last weekend. Braunschweig have little to lose against a team everybody expects them to struggle against, which is why they will do all they can to upset the applecart. "Everybody knows that Dortmund have one of the best sides in the world with an abundance of strength," said their coach Torsten Lieberknecht.
"If we want to win, then we've got to do something extraordinary." Facing a weakened Dortmund, deprived not only of 'Kuba', but also Neven Subotic and Ilkay Gundogan, does not make matters any easier for the Bundesliga newcomers, who would climb off the bottom of the league with a win. "I would have preferred it if they had brought the whole orchestra with them," added Lieberknecht. "But even with the orchestra they've got, they can play a pretty decent Blues."
Dortmund's Blues band
That brings us back to who will be playing which instrument for Dortmund. With a question mark still hanging over the lead man at the centre of the defence, the biggest question of them all is who will start on the right of midfield in Kuba's absence. Four candidates have emerged, all of whom add a different dimension to Dortmund's game, depending on the approach they will take in Braunschweig.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks the likeliest to pass that audition - Dortmund need to go all-out for the win, after all. Lukasz Piszczek could therefore be left with just a support role as Klopp's A-liners look to strike up a tune which would put pressure on Bayer 04 Leverkusen in second place. One thing's for sure - Braunschweig and Dortmund are set to deliver a headline performance on Friday night.
Braunschweig: Davari - Kessel, Bicakcic, Dogan, Reichel - Theuerkauf - Elabdellaoui, Pfitzner, Nielsen, Boland - Ademi
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer - Bender, Sahin - Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski
You can also listen to live radio commentary of the match, in English, here.