Doha - Holger Badstuber could be forgiven for perhaps taking FC Bayern München's mid-season preparations in Qatar a little more seriously than any previous winter training camps.
The 26-year-old was a regular in the Bayern side after breaking into the team in 2009, but he has made just three league appearances since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in November 2012.
He returned to the team at the beginning of the season before his injury curse struck again, but after intensive individual training, he is back amongst the first-team and will be in contention to play a part in the season's restart at VfL Wolfsburg on 30 January. On Friday, the Memmingen-born defender took time out in Doha to speak to the media about his imminent return to full fitness and his ambitions for the rest of the season.
Holger Badstuber on... his training in Doha:
I’m feeling good. I’m managing the training very well and it’s a new incentive for me to be training with the rest of the team. You can’t really compare it to working individually. I’m looking forward to being able to complete these tough training exercises and to being out on the pitch with the guys again.
…his numerous injuries:
I can’t really forget about them because they’re a part of my history, but I can learn from them. They showed me that I need to be more patient sometimes - I’ve learned quite a lot about patience. Mentally, I think I’ve come to terms with it [the injury record]. I had great people around me and I was always in contact with my team-mates. That gives you a good feeling about overcoming the injuries. I’m just happy I can be involved again.
…being back in the first team:
We haven’t talked about it, but we’ve only been here a few days. We need to see how everything goes here. At some point I’ll discuss it with the coach, and my team-mates, but all I can do right now is give my best in training and keep on working hard. We’ll see how far I’ve come in two or three weeks and then perhaps I can make a case for myself.
…the death of Junior Malanda:
It was tragic. Everyone was totally shocked. It’s so difficult for everyone, especially his family and my sympathies go out to them. There'll be some tough weeks coming up but I hope they can get through it. It’s still something we’re all coming to terms with.
…options in the team:
I think it’s very useful when you have different options to play with. It’s down to us, the players, that we play that way, but the coach also has his input too. It’s a weapon that we’re a bit more unpredictable and it’s made us stronger that we can change things up during a game. At the highest level it’s the little details that make the difference. We’re set up well for what will be a tough second half to the season, but we’re looking forward to it.
…possible complacency in the Rückrunde:
That's not a problem. We know the situation in our heads and it’s great that we are where we are. You want to improve individually and help the team get better. You still have targets that you want to achieve and you can’t do that if you let your level drop. What we have to do now is take a deep breath and give it everything we have. In March, April and May is the business end of the season and that’s what we're working towards here.