US SoccerUS Soccer

Tony Sanneh May Return to Nurnberg's Line-up

He’s back with a better back.

After missing Nurnberg’s last seven games with a nagging back injury, U.S. international Tony Sanneh returned to full training Tuesday and gives himself a 50-50 chance to return to the line-up for the crucial match against Kaiserslautern this Saturday – pain or no pain.

"It’s really not 100% better yet, but I’m at the point where I think I can start playing," Sanneh said. "I still have pain, but as long as it doesn’t get worse, I can continue."

Getting Sanneh on the field is crucial to Nurnberg. The Bundesliga side has been hit with a number of injuries this year, and after a dismal 1-4-1 record since coming back from winter break, Nurnberg sits only two points above the regulation zone.

Last week, Sanneh had a surgical procedure done on his back, getting numerous painful injections in an attempt to help lessen the pain he’s been suffering for the past four months. Only now has he had discovered the full effects of playing with the injury for so long.

"My muscles had to be retrained to work properly," said Sanneh, who routinely played in the first half of the Bundesliga season despite the constant discomfort. "Basically, everything worked the wrong way because of the back."

Sanneh is hoping to get back on the field to help keep his team’s head above water, because he knows relegation to the second division would be disastrous.

"It’s like going from a major league to a minor league," he said. "For the players, instead of playing in Yankee Stadium, they’re playing in Tidewater. You go from playing in 50,000 seat stadiums to playing in 10,000 seat stadiums, from even fields to uneven fields, instead of flights you’re taking buses. And, of course, there’s huge money at stake for the club."

Sanneh added that he’s still optimistic about playing with the U.S. Men’s National Team against Japan on March 29 in Seattle.

"It always special to be a part of the national team," he said. "It would great to get a chance to play with some of the guys from the World Cup team, as well as get a look at some of the younger players. I’m confident that I’ll be ready."