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Leverkusen captain Bender needs op, out for rest of season

AS Monaco FC v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - UEFA Champions League

MONACO - SEPTEMBER 27: Joao Moutinho (R) of AS Monaco FC tackles Lars Bender of Bayer 04 Leverkusen during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Monaco FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Louis II Stadium on September 27, 2016 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

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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.