Hasebe improving but unsure over return


Japan captain Makoto Hasebe is making progress on the road to recovery from knee surgery but said Saturday he could not put a time frame on his return to action.

Back with his teammates at relegation-haunted Bundesliga side Nuremberg after rehabilitating in Japan, Hasebe said, “I guess everything is going well (but) I cannot play yet. I don’t know when I will be returning.”

Hasebe, sidelined by a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, was speaking after Nuremberg’s 2-0 reverse to Shinji Okazaki’s Mainz, a defeat which left it second-from-last in the table.

“I’ve just got to think of a way I can help the team,” he said.

It would be a huge blow for Japan should the 30-year-old Hasebe not recover in time for the June 12-July 13 World Cup.

Hasebe has worn the armband for Japan since the last World Cup in South Africa, and is well respected by his teammates on and off the pitch.

He suffered the injury during a friendly in January and has had surgery twice on the knee since then.