Mönchengladbach - Borussia Mönchengladbach striker could be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu in his second season at the club.
Mirror of last season
As was the case 12 months ago, Lucien Favre’s men have begun the campaign in highly impressive fashion, with Kruse himself firing on all cylinders and fully deserving his call-up to the Germany squad. This time around, however, he is determined not to let his place in the national set-up slip from his grasp.
Last November the former SC Freiburg man joined up with the Germany team having netted seven goals and provided six assists in his first 12 games for the Foals. Yet he had a minimal impact in friendlies away to Italy and England, scored just once in his next 12 league outings and dropped off the radar when Joachim Löw named his final 23 players for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The 26-year-old's current form is on a par with the heights he hit this time last season. His three goals and two assists in five games have helped Gladbach extend their unbeaten run to 11 in all competitions and head into the international break third in the table. Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, the forward talked of his pride at being included in the Germany ensemble and his eagerness to add to his six international appearances and solitary goal.
A long time coming
“Of course I’m pleased to be involved,” Kruse said following his goal in Borussia’s 1-1 draw with 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 7, before underlining his present levels of confidence by backing himself to start for Germany: “I’m there to show the national team coach that I’m an option for the starting 11, but it’s been a long time since I was in the squad and we’ll just see what happens.”
Kruse is Löw’s only recognised striker for the upcoming UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers against Poland and the Republic of Ireland and, in light of his current form, his conviction is not misplaced. In any case, Kruse's pro-active approach on the pitch and amiable demeanour off it will stand him in good stead if he does indeed receive the coach’s nod of approval.
'We’re world champions!’
He certainly has the backing of his team-mates to succeed in an attack-minded Germany side next week. Strike partner labels him a “terrific player, someone who you can combine really well with”, while Spanish defender says, “he’s so mobile and can come short or run in behind. He’s a little bit special.”
Regardless of how much playing time he is given for Germany, Kruse has most certainly bought into the winning mentality that becoming world champions for a fourth time has further instilled in Löw's set-up, and his attitude which will be music to the coach's ears: “We’re world champions - we have to win both games.”
Bernie Reeves reporting from the Borussia Park