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Toni resumes training

Hitzfeld voices concern over Lucio fitness

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Ottmar Hitzfeld spent the first part of his working day at the Säbener Strasse on Thursday assessing the condition of the club’s current internationals, as the stars in question traipsed in one by one just after lunch. “Greeting the players who’ve been away is always a tense moment. There are always a host of question-marks,“ Hitzfeld told a delayed news conference.

The head coach’s tour of the dressing room produced overwhelmingly positive news, with only Martin Demichelis complaining of a minor injury following a successful trip to Australia with Argentina, where “Micho” headed the only goal of the game. “He’s dead on his feet,” Hitzfeld revealed, as the centre-half reported to club doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt for treatment on back pain arising from the flight halfway around the world.

Toni cleared to train by Müller-Wohlfahrt

Demichelis is not rated doubtful for Saturday’s momentous clash with last season’s runners-up Schalke 04, but there are concerns for regular central defensive partner Lucio, as the Brazilian is not due to return from two internationals in the USA until Friday. “I’ll have to give it some thought,” admitted Hitzfeld, keen to maintain the defensive pairing which has served the club so well this term.

The Bayern coach will also be pondering whether to risk Luca Toni against the Royal Blues. Dr Müller-Wohlfahrt gave the Italian the all-clear to resume training on Thursday, but Hitzfeld said he was waiting to see if the striker suffered a reaction to his hamstring injury. “Whether he’s fit will come down to the last few hours,” Hitzfeld remarked.

Podolski’s golden goal

Should Toni lose his race against time, Lukas Podolski is finally back in the frame to take over. The 22-year-old received a huge tonic by scoring the third for Germany in a 3-1 win against Romania, and is now hoping to face Schalke. “He got better and better the longer the game went on. The goal will be a massive boost to his confidence,” commented Hitzfeld, delighted at the striker’s rehabilitation into the Germany set-up. “It’s worth a huge amount when our players pick up match practice in the national team.”

Marcell Jansen played a game and a half for Germany, similarly speeding his recovery from a lay-off, and should make his second Bundesliga appearance for Bayern on Saturday, although the left-sided utility man restricted himself to weight training on Thursday. Podolski reported for a massage after completing 90 gruelling minutes in Cologne.

Schalke without Pander?

In the Ruhr valley, Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka has concerns of his own, specifically regarding Christian Pander. The Germany international has a bruised thigh and cannot train until Friday, but Georgia star Lewan Kobiashvili is fit again from a groin problem. The centre-half berth vacated by Mladen Krstajic (knee) will likely be filled by new signing Heiko Westermann.