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'We're backing him'

Club reaffirms faith in Schweinsteiger

There need be no beating around the bush: Bastian Schweinsteiger has enjoyed far better periods of form than the trough he finds himself in now. For the first time in a long time, the Germany international finally filled his favoured role on the left of midfield against Bremen on Sunday. Schweini, seeking to deputise for the injured Franck Ribéry, gave a determined display and shot at goal on five occasions, but he was unable to exert a decisive influence on Bayern's 1-1 draw with Werder.

"He did some good things today, he didn't just misplace his passes," Ottmar Hitzfeld analysed afterwards. The Bayern coach replaced Schweinsteiger with youngster Toni Kroos on 66 minutes, but rose to the Germany man's defence in his post-match commentary. "It's still early days after the winter break, and experience tells us Bastian needs a few more games than some other players before he recaptures his rhythm.“

Lahm backs Schweini

Team-mate Philipp Lahm believes it is only a matter of time before Schweini recaptures past glories. "I'm not worried about him at all. Obviously he's falling below his own expectations at the moment. But everyone has phases when it goes less well. We all know he's an exceptional footballer," the full-back declared on Tuesday. "He'll be successful again soon."

Schweinsteiger is guaranteed unconditional backing from his fellow players. "Schweini is a great player and an important member of the team. We need to help him and motivate him," commented Lucio. "This is how a team works: when it's not going so well for one individual, the others have to rally round.“

Rummenigge offers personal help

Schweinsteiger also enjoys the board's complete confidence. "Obviously he can do better than he did against Bremen, but we should cut out the ceaseless criticism of Bastian Schweinsteiger," declared chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, stepping personally into a raging media debate. "Bastian is a young man who needs support during a tricky phase – and he'll get it from Bayern Munich football club. He'll be receiving personal help and support from me," Rummenigge told the tz newspaper.

Schweinsteiger was "a vital player“ at the club, the chairman insisted. "And if he's having a hard time of it, we need to make sure he gets back to having a good time of it. He'll be supported by me personally, and the entire club," Rummenigge continued. The Bayern chief hinted at a forthcoming offer to extend Schweinsteiger's contract, which expires in 2009. "We're interested in keeping him and we'll sit down and talk when the time's right. There's been no change of mind. We have complete confidence in Bastian.“