Fabian Johnson nears Borussia Monchengladbach return after injury

Fabian Johnson has said he is closer to a Borussia Monchengladbach return after struggling with Achilles tendon problems.

The United States international, who last featured for The Foals in their 4-0 loss to Barcelona in early December, hopes to make the matchday squad for the club's first competitive match at Darmstadt on Saturday.

"I am no longer injured," Johnson said on Wednesday. "I am headed into the right direction, but I have yet to reach my old level."

Johnson's return would be an important injury boost for Gladbach, who have only picked up 16 points from their first 16 league games, and need to avoid defeat at Darmstadt in new coach Dieter Hecking's first match in charge.

The former Wolfsburg boss already has to do without several players, especially in midfield and attack where Tobias Strobl, Patrick Herrmann and Ibrahima Traore are all set to miss the restart of the Bundesliga.

Gladbach, who qualified for Champions League in the past two seasons, are only three points above Hamburg, the club currently holding the relegation playoff spot.

They have an eight-point lead on Darmstadt, where former Germany international Torsten Frings took the reins during the winter break.