Healthy Honda heads back to CSKA

Kyodo

Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda has flown back to Russia to rejoin CSKA Moscow after completing rehab work on his left ankle Wednesday.

Honda has not played for his club since the Russian Premier League restarted last month.

Honda’s return will be a huge boost for Japan, which without him, lost 2-1 away to Jordan on March 26 in World Cup qualifying, its first defeat of the final round.

The Asian champions can qualify for Brazil with a draw at home against Australia on June 4.

They wrap up the campaign a week later at Iraq before the June 15-30 Confederations Cup for which Japan has been grouped with host Brazil, Italy and Mexico, certain to be the biggest test yet for Alberto Zaccheroni’s side.

Japan needs Honda to contribute with Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo set to miss the crucial month of June after being diagnosed with a torn left meniscus.

Nagatomo is expected to have surgery, possibly in Japan.