Created on 12-10-2007 at 00:00 AM
Fitness coach Zvonko Komes opted to push Willy Sagnol to the limit on Friday morning. The right-back spent 90 punishing minutes testing his strength and stamina against a variety of obstacles, including low hurdles and the dreaded elastic ropes, before rounding off his personal training session with a series of sprints. The hard work is about to pay off for the crowd favourite as he nears a comeback from a six-month lay-off following knee surgery.
“I’ll be training with the team tomorrow, and I’m delighted about it. It’s been a very long time,” Sagnol told sports TV station DSF on Friday. The player was not yet ready for the full squad programme, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld explained, “but he’ll be able to take part in skills training.”
Long spell on sidelines
Even that represents a giant stride forward for Sagnol, who has spent months on his own in a tailored rehab programme. Expected to be missing for four months after damaging the meniscus and cartilage in his right knee in a Champions League trip to AC Milan last April, the France star has already been out of action for six months.
The original injury has now fully cleared, the player reported. “I’m feeling great, and I’ve been really going for it on the training ground for ten days. I’m working off a solid basis now,” the 30-year-old revealed. “He’s deep into a recovery programme,“ Hitzfeld confirmed, “we’re already pushing him very hard in terms of stamina and running.”
Patience a virtue
No deadline has been set for Willy to make a return to match action. “He still has some way to go,“ Hitzfeld commented on Wednesday. “We can’t name a point in time when he’ll be playing again,“ the coach reiterated on Friday.
Sagnol himself insisted he would not attempt a return until he was 100% fit: “It could still be two, three or even four weeks.“ After half a year away from the game, the Frenchman can afford to be both patient and optimistic: “I’ll be back soon,” he declared.