Hamburg - With Hamburger SV's Bundesliga survival hanging by a thread, going through the motions in training this week will have been a welcome sight for coach Mirko Slomka.
Record on the line
The club's top goalscorer this season has missed HSV's last five games, four of which saw the northern Germany side end up on the losing side.
On Saturday, Hamburg . It will be not only their biggest game of the season, but arguably one of the biggest in the club's 51-year Bundesliga history. Win or lose, the best HSV can hope for is a play-off spot against the third-placed team from Bundesliga 2, but the Red Shorts are desperate not tempt fate. Only then do they stand a chance of continuing their uninterrupted stay in the Bundesliga.
Lasogga, who is on loan for the season from Hertha Berlin, has found the back of the net 12 times in the Bundesliga during the current campaign. That is a quarter of the goals HSV have scored collectively, while only two of the Red Shorts' seven wins this season have come while Lasogga has been on the sidelines. They have lost six without him.
Hoping for Lasogga
"If he can continue to train fully with us, then he's an option for the starting XI," said Slomka, who is therefore hoping for a Lasogga-sized boost ahead of a game which he hopes will represent a first for him this season - a maiden win on the road. "His recovery is making us positive that we'll make it."
For Hamburg to be pinning all of their survival hopes on the shoulders of a 22-year-old is perhaps an exaggeration, but having him back would certainly help build morale and confidence on the back of a promising first-half performance against FC Bayern München last weekend. "We showed that we have that ravenous will," commented the club's director of sport Oliver Kreuzer.
Goal threat wanted
That may have come just a little too late, however. No matter how Hamburg fare against a side who are also in need of points to secure their berth in Europe next season, they will not be able to avoid being the side with the lowest number of points to have finished 16th since 1996 - when three points for a win was introduced - assuming, of course, they manage to finish above the bottom two.
Without victory, they are reliant on FC Schalke 04 and 1899 Hoffenheim preventing 1. FC Nürnberg and Eintracht Braunschweig from winning their final matches just to cling onto 16th, and the hope of avoiding relegation for the first time in the club's history. For that, they need goals. "We just don't look a threat in front of goal right now," bemoaned Slomka. 12 goals in just 17 starts is Lasogga's personal record, and that is just the threat Slomka needs, at just the right time.