Leverkusen - 'Welcome back, Robbie!' was the announcement on Bayer 04 Leverkusen's website when Australian forward Robbie Kruse returned to team training on Friday.

Six months after tearing knee ligaments, the 25-year-old was back in action and able to participate in most of the session with his team-mates, auguring well for a return in time for the start of the season.

Slowly but surely

"We're still taking things nice and steady, but he's heading in the right direction and should be fully again involved soon," said assistant coach Daniel Niedzkowski. "I'm really delighted for him. It's a different feeling altogether for a player to be able to train with the rest of the team."

Kruse's season, and his dream of turning out for Australia at the World Cup, were abruptly ended when he damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in January. "My main objective is to be back next season," he said at the time after undergoing surgery; "Life goes on." Leverkusen fans will be hoping it goes on with Kruse making the same kind of start to the upcoming campaign as he did to the last one, when he scored two goals and set up two more in just four games.