Wolfsburg - There was one VfL Wolfsburg player who may take a little more time to acclimatise to team training after Dieter Hecking's squad returned to action following the festive period.
New signing Xizhe Zhang, unveiled as the latest member of the Wolfpack on 16 December and officially a Wolfsburg player since 1 January, was given his first taste of his new surroundings on Monday, and he was certainly up for the challenge.
All a new experience
"I'd never seen [facilities] like these in China," said the 23-year-old, no doubt impressed with the Bundesliga club's modern complex. He will have his work cut out to get his physical condition up to speed ahead of the Bundesliga's restart on 30 January, and the small matter of a home game with the current league leaders FC Bayern München, however. "In the last couple of months I've not really done any proper training. I've only been working in the gym." The club had made clear that the former Beijing Guoan man will be given "all the time he needs" to settle in Lower Saxony, and that was very much Hecking's sentiment on Monday. "We're not expecting miracles, but perhaps he'll surprise us," said the 50-year-old tactician of his latest recruit. "The big challenge for us is now to integrate him as quickly as possible."
Hecking hopeful on Olic and Young
While Zhang and Co. were being put through their paces, notable absentees at training included Ivica Olic and Sebastian Jung, who are both suffering from illness. "Ivica came down with fever and a stomach bug on Sunday and is recovering in bed in Croatia," said Hecking, who hopes Olic can board a plane to Germany on Monday. Jung, meanwhile, has been waylaid by a severe cold in recent days. "He's lost four kilos and his body is weak. We need to get him back up to strength," continued the coach. There was better news regarding midfielder Josuha Guilavogui and defender Ricardo Rodriguez, who were both able to train, while Patrick Ochs also made an important step on his road to recovery after a cruciate knee ligament injury by taking part in the session. The Wolves are currently second in the standings following their best-ever Bundesliga Hinrunde.