Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain will not return for four months, after undergoing surgery on his back in the USA, and it could take up to year before he is back to full fitness.
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Higuain, a key performer for Madrid since making the move to the Bernabeu in 2007, has been out of action because of a herniated disc in his back, but his surgeon Richard Fessler is optimistic over his return.
"The operation lasted one hour and 15 minutes. It was a two-inch incision and it was all cut," Fessler said. "Higuain will stay a week in Chicago before he returns.
"He can begin to start stretching in a week and running in two or three. The operation went very well and the recovery time is four months, but to recover 100% it will take a year.
"Once you have a back problem, sometimes you have pain and others do not. I don't see any complications for him. Many football players and basketballers have returned to playing at 100%.
"He waited the appropriate amount of time because not everyone that has this injury requires an operation. You have to give it a period of time, which can be anywhere from six weeks to three months. It was a normal amount of time.''