Lucas Hernandez aims to win back Bayern Munich and France place
Lucas Hernandez has targetted winning his place back in the Bayern Munich side and the France team when the FIFA World Cup winner gets back onto the pitch after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hernandez joined Bayern from Atletico Madrid last summer, but injury has frustrated him in his attempts to establish himself as the record Bundesliga champions' first-choice left-back.
An ankle fracture sustained in October means the 24-year-old has played just 11 Bundesliga games for the league leaders, and while he has been on the sidelines, Alphonso Davies has blossomed on the left side of the Bayern backline.
Watch: Who is Lucas Hernandez?
Hernandez featured in Bayern's last five league games before the season shutdown, but started just one — as a centre-back — and now has a very clear idea of what he wants to do when football restarts.
"To win back my place. At Bayern and with the French national team," Hernandez told French sports daily L'Equipe when asked about his short-term objectives.
"I had two big injuries and operations in 2019, but my injuries are nothing in relation to this epidemic. I was starting to get back February, early March. The postponement of the EURO is a blessing in disguise for me and for other France teammates coming back from injury.
"We'll have more time to prepare. It's a competition in which you have to be 100 per cent. But with all that we're seeing, all that's happening, we want to play football even more. We're going to come out of this even stronger mentally."
After the season was halted following Matchday 25, Bayern's players trained at home, and were put through their paces every morning via videolink with the club's fitness coaches.
They resumed training at the Säbener Strasse complex last week, though Hernandez, one of a close-knit quartet of Frenchmen in the Bayern first-team squad, explained the steps taken to ensure there is no physical contact between the players.
"We're in small groups of four. We don't see the others. We train at different times to avoid contact. The dressing rooms are set up differently, and we don't train on the same pitches. As soon as we're finished, we take a quick shower and eat at home. It's a different kind of way of keeping the body ticking over," said Hernandez, who trained alongside fellow first-teamers Javi Martinez, and Alvaro Odriozola as well as a young reserve team player for an hour in his first session back on the pitch.
"It's Bayern, so everything is organised down to the finest detail. The suspension of the season and squad training sessions were taken in hand immediately. We've been supervised closely since the first days of lockdown. By mid-March, the club had put in distance training sessions, Monday to Saturday, every morning."
While not training, Hernandez has been spending some of his time playing Fortnite online with brother Theo, the AC Milan defender, Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi and a number of professional gamers to collect money for the Spanish Red Cross.
The measured return to training has raised the prospect that Bundesliga football could make a comeback in the not too distant future, and Hernandez is champing at the bit to get started again, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is firmly under control.
'I miss football'
"I have an incredible desire to kick a ball. It's not the priority, even if I miss football terribly. It's my passion, my job, but we have to restart when everyone is well, when there is no risk. Football is secondary at these times," he said.
"They're talking about playing games behind closed doors until 2020 here. The green light will come from the government and the doctors above all. They're the ones who can judge that. Peoples' lives come before football. We see everyone is the same in the face of this virus, footballer or not, rich or poor. Everyone has to be united more than ever."
The Bayern squad have shown their solidarity by taking a 20 per cent pay cut to help the club pay the salaries of the behind-the-scenes employees that put the players in a position to be able to compete at the highest level.
"It's logical and normal. We're participating in the collective effort to help all the employees, the people around the club who usually help us do our jobs well," Hernandez explained. "The squad was unanimous in taking this decision. We are ultra-privileged. We are making an effort which isn't a big effort. We're not the heroes."
How will Bayern line up without Mane and Hernandez?
bundesliga.com takes a look at Julian Nagelsmann’s options without his two injured stars...
France's Bayern block
Kingsley Coman, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez will be key for the defending world champions...
Lucas Hernandez: 10 things
bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on Bayern's French World Cup winner.