Berlin - Alexander Baumjohann's career at Hertha Berlin has been blighted by injury. As he slowly returns to full fitness, the attacking midfielder can look forward to a reunion with his former club, FC Schalke 04, on Matchday 9.
Baumjohann has not enjoyed the happiest time of his career at Hertha Berlin. Since joining the club in 2013, he has featured in only 15 games. Having ruptured his cruciate ligament twice in the last two years, the 28-year-old missed the entirety of last season.
This year has seen an upturn in Baumjohann's fortunes however, as Hertha attempt to slowly bring him back to the top of his game. He has already featured in six of eight Bundesliga games for Pal Dardai's side, coming on as a substitute in all of them.
"We're taking it step by step, and it's working well at the moment," Baumjohann told Hertha's official website, "I think I'll soon be at the stage where I can play from the start."
'It's always special to play against Schalke'
Working well is a candid way of putting it. Despite having only played a total of 99 minutes so far this season, Baumjohann already has two assists to his name, teeing up goals in Hertha's victories against 1. FC Köln and Hamburger SV.
"It's my job to create chances and hopefully to score one or two goals for the club," said Baumjohann, "it's clear that I haven't forgotten how to play football over the last two years." Nonetheless, Hertha's comeback kid is taking it slowly. By his own admission, he needs as much match practice as possible before he is able to return to his optimum level.
His next chance will come on Saturday, as Hertha travel to Gelsenkirchen to take on FC Schalke 04. It is a particularly special fixture for Baumjohann, who came through the youth system at Schalke and had two spells there as a professional. In his second spell, he helped the Royal Blues to glory in the DFB Cup in 2011.
"It's always special to play against Schalke, because it's the club at which I grew up, and at which I've spent most of my professional career," said Baumjohann, "I also have a lot of friends there too, so I'm really looking forward to it." Given the returnee's burgeoning form, that may not be a sentiment shared by Schalke.