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Hamburg's Dutch captain Rafael van der Vaart will miss Sunday's Bundesliga clash at home to Hanover and faces a lengthy lay off after damaging his ankle while on international duty.

The 30-year-old had to be helped off just before half-time in the Netherlands' goalless draw with Colombia in Amsterdam on Tuesday and an MRI scan in Hamburg confirmed a severe ligament injury in his right ankle.

The club have said there is no fixed date on how long he will be out for, but it is assumed at least the next four weeks and ex-Real Madrid star Van der Vaart could have played his last football of 2013.

"The loss really hurts, because he had played really well in the last last few weeks and had been an important part of the team," said Hamburg's director of sport Oliver Kreuzer. "It all depends now on healing process, hope springs eternal."

With six goals in 12 Bundesliga games this season, the injury is a significant blow to Hamburg's attack with only Germany Under-21 striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga, who has hit the net eight times in eight league games this season, having scored more goals for the Hanseatic side.

"I will do all I can to be back on the pitch as soon as possible," said Van der Vaart.

Hamburg, 14th in the league, have climbed out of the relegation places under ex-Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, who replaced Thorsten Fink in September after a poor start to the season.


Hamburg remain unbeaten in three league games under coach Bert van Marwijk after picking up a point in their thrilling 3-3 draw with 10-man VfB Stuttgart on Sunday. Ex-Holland coach Van Marwijk took charge in September after predecessor Thorsten Fink was fired following a disastrous start to the season, including a 6-2 drubbing at Borussia Dortmund.

Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart earned his side a point when he equalized for the third time for the hosts on 67 minutes on Van Marwijk's home debut.

Stuttgart spent the last six minutes with 10 men after Germany Under-21 center-back Antonio Ruediger was shown a straight red for hitting Dutch midfielder Van der Vaart in the ribs.

"We have improved again and are playing football the way I like it," said Van Marwijk as Hamburg rallied at 3-2 down after ex-Arsenal defender Johan Djourou conceded a second-half own goal. "We had a couple of really nice attacks, which pleased me. We had a bit of bad luck with the own goal."

After a draw at Frankfurt and a 5-0 hammering of Nuremberg, the point kept Hamburg 15th, having been in the bottom three when Van Marwijk took over, while Stuttgart are eighth.