It seems like an eternity ago when Ilkay Gundogan last donned the famous black and yellow shirt of Borussia Dortmund.
The versatile central midfielder has not played a competitive fixture for Dortmund in since the eventful 2013 Champions League final where Jurgen Klopp’s side were humbled by bitter rivals Bayern Munich.
Indeed, the closest that the 23 year old has come to being involved within Klopp’s plans over the past 14 months is coming into the Dortmund changing room at either half or fall time for morale support.
Since injuring his back on international duty with Germany in August 2013, Gundogan has rarely set foot on the training ground with a string of rehabilitation appointments in the USA keeping the 23 for the majority of the time in the air.
Indeed, you could argue that the Gelsenkirchen born midfielder’s future at the club has been up in the air in recent weeks, with reports suggesting that the 23 year olds back complaint would keep him out of football for good.
However, after spending the back end of the last 422 days either on the treatment table or in intense training sessions, Gundogan was finally able to take to the football pitch for the Dortmund second team in their 2-0 win against VFL Bochum on Thursday evening.
And if this isn’t good enough, then BVB fans the world over will be delighted to know that the 23 year old is in contention to make his long-awaited comeback away to Cologne on Saturday 18th October.
Klopp for one must be dancing around his office in sheer delight knowing that he will once again be able to call upon the “Bearded General” to command what has been in recent months a very out of place midfield.
To put it simply, BVB have suffered greatly without their star man, Gundogan who for so much of his time with the Westfalenstadoin outfit acted as the link between defensive and attack.
If you were to take Gundogan out of the equation as Klopp found out the hard way last season and indeed for the beginning of the current one, it is pretty much equivalent to taking the tap out of the bath.
Having missed out to Bayern on both Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles last season, Klopp will be hoping that the return of Gundogan to the squad will act as an instant remedy to Dortmund’s disappointing start to the 2014-15 campaign.
BVB currently occupy an unwanted 13th position in the Bundesliga and are without a win in the league since 13th September when the Black and Yellows overcame Freiburg 3-1 at home.
Since then the club have been on the wane and despite enjoy brief respites in the Champions League have become the forefront of mockery with the Klopp coming under fierce criticism for his team’s lacklustre performances.
Now with Gundogan back in the picture, the 47 year old manager will be able to unleash Plan A with the 23 year old acting as the motor to a midfield containing the likes of Henrik Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Shinji Kagawa.
In the past seven Bundesliga games, Borussia Dortmund have conceded an eye-watering 12 goals, and with the Gelsenkirchen-born midfielder returning to the fold, expect BVB to be far more water-tight at the back.
Whilst Gundogan will also bring a wave of creativity and insurance to the club’s loose midfield, with his presence, excellent passing and perfect eye for goal acting as full proof glue.
It is not only Borussia Dortmund and Jϋrgen Klopp who have missed the weekly stellar performances of Gundogan, but indeed Germany who just like the Black and Yellows are in need of the 23 year old to solidify their already potent midfield.
With the former Nϋrnberg midfielder once again at the disposal of Joachim Löw it is possible to imagine Gϋdogan pushing out the injury prone Bastain Schweinsteiger for a place in the first team, something which will no doubt go down well in the city of Dortmund.