The Fuggerstädter spent nine days in the Turkish sunshine as they prepare for the season’s resumption at the end of January, and head coach Markus Weinzierl believes the groundwork has been laid for a productive Rückrunde. “We’ve had great conditions to train in and had two friendlies against tough opposition,” the 40-year-old told daily newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.
Excited by Hojbjerg’s potential
Weinzierl is hoping Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who has joined the club on loan from neighbours FC Bayern München and from whom big things are expected, will become a key weapon in the team’s armoury and allow them to build on such an encouraging first half of the season. “Hojbjerg is already a Danish international at the age of 19, has trained with top-class players since he moved to Bayern at 16 and won a lot of trophies with the club. What’s important for me isn’t how often he played but what he’s already achieved.”
Augsburg’s coach has has reminded the youngster of his responsibility to adapt to the team’s style of play, but is looking forward to seeing him strutting his stuff on the pitch. “He has to put in as much work as every other player and integrate himself in the group. Then he’ll start to show his individual quality.”
Praise for Altintop
Attentions have also turned to another midfielder of late, with Halil Altintop entering the final six months of his contract and yet to agree a new deal. The 38-time Turkey international, who has 12 goals in 51 Bundesliga appearances for the club, turned 32 in December, but Weinzierl is in no doubt whatsoever about what Altintop can offer the team.
“I absolutely want him to stay,” he said. “I believe he feels settled here and that he knows the standing he has in the team and the love he has from the fans. Everyone knows how important he is for us and I think he’s had fun being part of how the club has developed. I hope he chooses to end his career here.”
Augsburg, perched in the heady heights of sixth in the table, entertain TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a place below them, in Matchday 18’s curtain closer a week on Sunday.