Created on 17-07-2007 at 00:00 AM
A battery of camera lenses followed Luca Toni every step of the way from the dressing room to the team photo shoot on Tuesday morning. A visibly relieved Uli Hoeneß followed a couple of yards behind, the creases of concern which had furrowed the general manager's brow on Sunday afternoon now gone for good.
The €11 million goal-getter had limped from the field after an accidental collision in the first half of Bayern's friendly against Albstadt, and only took his place on the bench after a lengthy spell of treatment to his right knee. Two days later, Toni was walking without obvious discomfort or any suggestion of a serious injury.
"I was a bit nervous," Hoeneß admitted on Tuesday, although the diagnosis issued on Monday evening, whereby the Italian had suffered nothing more than a stretched ligament just below the knee, had put the board director's mind at rest. "Thankfully, it's nowhere near as bad as we initially feared," he remarked. The World Cup winner will be unable to train for 10 days. "It would have been a disaster if he was out for longer," Hoeneß continued.
Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld similarly made no attempt to hide his relief. "Obviously it was a shock when Luca Toni got injured. A great weight fell from my shoulders yesterday," the coach reported. Bayern are short of options up front at the moment, with Lukas Podolski and Jan Schlaudraff both still recovering from surgery.
Doubtful for opener
"But it's still a setback," Hitzfeld observed. Toni was unable to train for three months after a foot operation in May, and the 30-year-old was clearly less fit than many of his team-mates at the Donaueschingen training camp. "He'll need time before he can go a full 90 minutes. Like I've said, it's a setback," Hitzfeld summarised.
The Italian will spend the coming days in the weights room and the swimming pool. "I hope Luca can catch up as soon as possible in terms of fitness," the head coach remarked. "But I think he's doubtful for the first game of the season."
Santa Cruz no real option
Despite Toni's short-term absence, Hitzfeld intends to maintain his preferred 4-4-2 formation, with reserve striker Sandro Wagner partnering Miroslav Klose in Wednesday's friendly against Monchengladbach. "He's done well in our friendlies so far," the General commented.
Nor will the club seek a remedy in the transfer market. "We're definitely not signing a new striker," Hitzfeld insisted. Roque Santa Cruz remains on the books in Munich, but the want-away striker has no part in the coach's future plans. "Right now, we might be glad at having another striker in the squad, but we're not reckoning on fielding Roque for another full year."