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Dropped for semi

Sagnol outburst earns Hitzfeld’s wrath

Willy Sagnol will not be part of the Bayern party which boards the plane to St. Petersburg on Wednesday morning for the UEFA Cup semi-final return the following day. Ottmar Hitzfeld has dropped the Frenchman from the squad to face the Russian champions for disciplinary reasons.

”Sagnol will have to watch for the time being. He’s not coming with us to St. Petersburg. He’ll train here twice instead,” Hitzfeld exclusively told The disciplinary measure is a reaction to comments made by the player after Sunday’s Bundesliga meeting with Stuttgart, when the 31-year-old used the media to complain at his selection in midfield rather than full-back.

Hitzfeld aiming to assist Sagnol

”I don’t enjoy this position at all,” Sagnol declared, also bemoaning a perceived lack of support since returning from a lengthy injury lay-off. “I’m still in a trough. I was hoping for more help in getting out of it, but it’s not been forthcoming,” the player was quoted as saying.

In response, Hitzfeld explained he had deliberately selected Sagnol in midfield to compensate for “physical problems. As a defender you’re often last man and have to go one-on-one, but he’s not yet recovered his pace and match rhythm. So I was trying to accommodate him, in that I actually gave him a game in the first place, because he has no automatic right to be playing at the moment. There are other players in better shape than him.”

Sagnol’s injury setbacks

However, Hitzfeld wanted “to assist” his long-time servant at Bayern with much-needed match practice in the run-up to this summer’s Euro 2008. “In the meantime, he’s apologised twice to me personally for the remarks he made,” the Bayern coach reported. “I told him he needs to work even harder on himself to rediscover the old Willy Sagnol, and we all have extremely good memories of him.”

Sagnol required surgery on a serious cartilage injury in early April last year, and only resumed the squad programme in late November. The France star was then sidelined for several weeks with a slipped disc in March this year. Sagnol has made 15 appearances for Bayern so far this season.