Leverkusen captain Bender needs op, out for rest of season

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LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) Bayer Leverkusen captain Lars Bender has been ruled out for the rest of the season as he needs an operation on his ankle.

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Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut says, “There hasn’t been any decisive improvement lately with Lars, even when he rested it completely for a few days. It’s important for us to settle the issue clearly and quickly. It’s not a big procedure – inflamed tissue will be removed.”

Bender, who has been plagued by injuries for the last year and a half, says, “I’m staying positive because I got to the stage where I couldn’t play. I’m already looking forward to when I can play without worries again.”

Leverkusen is only four points clear of the relegation zone with nine games remaining.