Created on 06-07-2007 at 00:00 AM
Most of the squad had retired to the dressing room after Thursday morning training, but Bastian Schweinsteiger stayed out on the practice ground, vying with Franck Ribery as to who could curl the ball nearest to the top corner of a mobile goal from 20 yards. The situation was a similar one the following day, the Germany international prolonging his workout long after his team-mates had quit the pitch.
To understand the reason behind the voluntary “overtime”, we have to go back to 7 April and Bayern’s 2-1 victory in Hanover. Schweinsteiger netted the winning goal, but it was to be his last outing of the season. Schweini reported sick the following day with a knee problem. And just a few days later, specialists diagnosed the dreaded Lyme’s disease, caused by a tick bite many years previously.
Burghausen, Rostock, Wembley
Some three months later, the 22-year-old is finally close to regaining fitness. “The knee’s up to it again,” he told Friday’s news conference, his first appearance for reporters since the infection was diagnosed. “Obviously, I’m not testing it to the limit yet . We don’t know when that’ll be, but it won’t be long now.”
Schweinsteiger has set himself a firm target of appearing in the opening match of the Bundesliga campaign against Hansa Rostock on 11 August. “As long as there aren’t any setbacks, it’s realistic.” The starlet would ideally be fit in time for the previous weekend’s Cup trip to Wacker Burghausen, while on the international front, he is aching to don a Germany shirt for the prestige friendly against England at the new Wembley stadium on 22 August: “It’ll be a unique occasion.“
Unafraid of competition
Bastian remains relaxed about the fierce competition for places after Bayern’s summer signing spree. “Provided I play to my potential, I’m convinced I’ll be in the team,” he insisted.
He was unwilling to lay claim to any specific position. “I was mainly used on the left last term, and that’s what I’m used to. But I can also operate in the middle or on the right.” However, all selection decisions “are for the coach alone. The players who are in the best form are the ones who should be in the team." Bastian Schweinsteiger is determined to be one of that select number.