Dortmund sweat over Erling Haaland’s fitness during Bundesliga break

Borussia Dortmund are set to spend the international break worrying about Erling Haaland’s fitness after the club indicated that the Norwegian striker’s injury could extend into the second half of October.

Haaland has not played since September 19 with an unspecified muscle problem and will be absent from Norway’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro.

Haaland wished the team the best of luck on Twitter on Monday ahead of the critical games for their ambition to play in Norway’s first major tournament since 2000.

“Basically all clubs have a duty to release (players)” for international assignments, said Sebastian Kehl, the administrative director of the Dortmund team, in comments published on Monday by the Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung.

“However, Erling is currently injured and hasn’t been able to play for us recently and can’t take part in the team’s training in the following weeks either.”

Kehl said he expected the Norwegian federation to “trust us and (Haaland)” about the injury.

Dortmund return to action on October 16 against Mainz and “hopefully” Haaland will be fit enough to play, sporting director Michael Zorc told the newspaper.

This game could see the return of forward Gio Reyna, who is absent from upcoming games for the United States, and midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. If Haaland’s expected return date goes back, it could affect Dortmund’s Champions League game against Ajax on October 19.

Few players transform their teams as completely as 21-year-old Haaland. He has 11 goals and five assists in seven games so far this season, and indirectly contributes more goals by pulling defenders out of position and creating space for his teammates.

With Haaland in the squad this season, Dortmund are averaging almost three goals per game. In the three games he has missed so far due to injury, Dortmund have averaged one goal. Fans must have been content to see him sitting in the stands or all dressed in black accepting a UEFA prize on the pitch.

Dortmund have been here before. A muscle tear caused Haaland to miss seven games in December last year, coinciding with a 5-1 loss to Stuttgart which led to Lucien Favre’s dismissal as manager.

If Dortmund can’t overwhelm teams on offense, it puts more pressure on an error-prone defense. In the past two weeks, has Dortmund managed without Haaland? just about. A 1-0 loss to rivals Borussia Münchengladbach was bitter due to the lack of chances created, especially for Dortmund coach Marco Rose against his former club.

To follow up with a 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon and a 2-1 win over Augsburg was better, although neither side really challenged Dortmund’s back line.

Other players could also take a break. Center-back Mats Hummels was not called up for Germany and said on Instagram on Sunday that “I now have some time to continue improving my health and fitness”.

There is also the looming question of Haaland’s future. His vast talent and young age make Haaland a great long-term bet for any club that can afford his transfer fee and possibly astronomical salary. Very few clubs have that kind of money, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Haaland’s father and his agent publicly explored links with some of Spain and England’s biggest clubs in April, but little has come of it since.

Dortmund were in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League at that point, but ultimately did, keeping Haaland in the biggest showcase of world football.

The sale of Jadon Sancho to Manchester United provided Dortmund with the income they needed to keep Haaland around for another season. However, its future remains far from certain.