Olympique de Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa has admitted that is not yet possible to ascertain when centre-back Nicolas Nkoulou will be ready to return to the side.
The defender has endured a troubled campaign. He is yet to feature for Marseille in 2015 and indeed hasn’t made an appearance in Ligue 1 since playing 90 minutes in victory over LOSC Lille in December last year.
He played every minute of Cameroon’s ill-fated trip to Equatorial Guinea for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, but was unable to prevent the fancied Indomitable Lions being dumped out in the first round.
Upon his return, he underwent knee surgery, and is yet to make his comeback to league action.
Nkoulou is still being supervised by the fitness coach Frederic Faure, and has begun to play with the ball again.
Bielsa admitted to Marseille’s official website that he cannot yet give a time for the former Monaco man’s return.
“From the moment he restarts collective training,” the coach began, “the evolution of his physical state will give us a date for his return.
“But we will survey his footballing level above all else. It’s not the same thing to just be in good physical form and to be able to play. There is a temptation to make him return to collective training next week.
“I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic,” Bielsa continued, “what’s bizarre is that a player who hasn’t played for a long time can rediscover his physical form in one week.”