National coach Alfred Gislason once said how reluctant he was to use his cell phone in the weeks before big tournaments. When the bell rings, there is usually a threat of disaster, a cancellation or the news that another handball player of national importance has injured himself again. Perhaps it would be more bearable if the Icelander didn’t worry too much about the composition of the German squad in advance. Simply switch off your cell phone and see who is fit at the end of December after the final Bundesliga game – and then you will be nominated.
Of course, it’s not that easy, especially since next January it’s not just any tournament, but the home European Championship in Germany. The squad planning for this event has been underway for a long time, and Gislason has even made a double return clear: After years of abstinence, the world-class talents Hendrik Pekeler (THW Kiel) and Fabian Wiede (Füchse Berlin) should return to the national team and, at best, in the opening game in Düsseldorf against Switzerland the world record crowd of more than 50,000 fans in the large football arena – show how much the team benefits from them.
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Fabian Wiede is about to be carried out of the Balingen handball hall. He needs surgery and will be out for a long time.
(Photo: Oliver Schmi/Eibner/Imago)
But whether that will work is uncertain. After all, Pekeler made his comeback after his heel operation a few days ago; The Kiel defense chief is on schedule for the tournament in January, things are looking good. In complete contrast to the Berlin backcourt player Wiede, who was so seriously injured during his Füchse game in Balingen that not only the rest of the first half of the season with his club was in serious danger, but also the European Championship with the national team.
Whether Wiede can play in the European Championship? Bob Hanning is skeptical
It was the 22nd minute and Wiede had basically just done what he is so valued for by the national coach. As a left-handed player, he is at home in the right back, but at heart he is a playmaker. So Wiede rose up and faked a throw, even though he had already had something else in mind. He decided to make a very fine pass to Max Darj, the Berlin pivot. He turned and threw the ball into the goal, but by then Wiede was already writhing on the ground.
He twisted his ankle when landing, without any impact from the enemy. Wiede couldn’t get up, teammates and physiotherapists rushed over. He was carried out of the hall on a cot, later taken for an X-ray, and returned on crutches under the influence of painkillers. The examination in Berlin revealed: bony avulsion and fracture of the right ankle. Long break.
For his club, the Füchse, currently second in the table, this is a significant loss and the second serious injury after captain Paul Drux’s Achilles tendon rupture. Wiede took over his captaincy in the summer and is now out for the long term. Wiede is “irreplaceable,” complained Füchse managing director Bob Hanning to RBB. Efforts will be made to find a replacement for Wiede, but they only want to bring in players who will really help the team move forward: “And they are not on the market right now.”
In any case, Wiede will have to undergo surgery as soon as the swelling has gone down, by an expert in foot and ankle surgery in Munich-Harlaching. It is impossible to predict when he will be able to play again. In response, the Foxes will first move U21 world champion Max Beneke into the professional team.
And the European Championships, which start in three and a half months? The European Championship is “definitely at serious risk” for Wiede, said Hanning: “As of today, I don’t have the imagination to believe that he can play.”
Gislason and Wiede had recently resolved disagreements
If it really comes to that, it would be the next major event that Wiede misses with the national team; He has not played for Germany at major tournaments since 2019. Sometimes for important reasons (shoulder surgery before the 2020 European Championships), sometimes for less important reasons (wisdom tooth surgery before the 2023 World Cup). Both of them were able to sort out a temporary resentment with the national coach because Wiede kept canceling in several conversations this summer. Gislason was happy that he was getting a world-class player in Wiede for the European Championships in his own country, who he had recently missed in the right backfield – now the new setback.
And another important player is sending bad signals: middle man Juri Knorr. The Rhein-Neckar Löwen player, who also manages the national team as a playmaker, is currently unable to get an abdominal muscle injury under control, which is why his club has stated the duration of the absence as “for the indefinite future”. But Gislason knows: the deadline for the European Championships is not the end of September, but the end of December. Until then, it’s better to turn off your cell phone.