It was seven degrees Celsius when the players took to the training pitch on Tuesday afternoon but the shine was shining as a fresh breeze blew autumn leaves across the immaculate green turf. With Arne Maier back with the team after his long absence due to a knee injury, the conditions were perfect to start preparing for Sunday’s clash with FC Augsburg. Sporting director Michael Preetz was also present, observing the 70 minute session.
After a relaxed warm-up, the 16 players took to the pitch and started their drills. Karim Rekik was absent due to illness and our international players were also missing. Vladimir Darida was taking part in an individual recovery session having already returned from international duty. The big and small goals were out for finishing practice, which took up most of the session. There was also some intense tackling and one-on-one practice. With the help of his coaching team, Ante Covic oversaw an entertaining, purposeful and focused session. The head coach was pleased with the day’s work: “It’s great to see some fire in training. It shows that there is life in the team – there’s no doubt about that,” enthused the boss.
Covic was equally pleased with Arne Maier’s return to training: “Arne is thrilled to be back on the pitch and back with the team. He can’t wait to get involved in an actual match. He is full of hunger and ambition,” said the Croatian coach. “We’ll obviously have to watch him closely to see how his body copes with the extra strain,” he cautioned. Maier added: “Everything’s okay with my knee now. I am not feeling any pain or discomfort there. It was a high intensity session today but that’s to be expected. This isn’t youth football anymore.” Maier will have plenty more opportunities to put his long absence behind him with more sessions over the coming days. Hopefully the conditions will be equally ideal for the sessions on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and all our international players will return injury free.