Nuremberg - 1. FC Nürnberg's Japanese international midfielder has made his long-awaited return to team training.

The 30-year-old has been out of action since tearing outer medial ligaments in his right knee during the winter break, but hopes to play some part in his side's battle against the drop before the season's end.

'70 per cent fit'

"I'm really sad not to have been in a position to help the team in recent weeks," he said. "Now I'm happy to be back training. I'm about 70 per cent fit, but I want to get back to 100 per cent to help the team beat relegation [...] I'm only thinking about Nürnberg. I want to be here next season."

Second-bottom Nürnberg trail relegation play-off incumbents Hamburger SV by just a point ahead of the penultimate weekend of action. Der Club host Hannover 96 on Saturday, before travelling to FC Schalke 04 on the final day. Should the Franconians finish 16th, they would face Bundesliga 2's third-placed outfit in a two-legged play-off on 15 and 19 May.