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Altintop fit for Euro

‘He’s one of our most important weapons’

The run-up to the European championships has proved a trying time for Hamit Altintop. The Bayern midfielder celebrated a comeback after two months on the sidelines only to pick up a new injury. His twin brother Halil was then dropped from the Turkey squad, a development which left the 25-year-old FCB schemer “in a state of shock,” he reported on Tuesday. However, things have taken a turn for the better after the player banished any remaining concerns over his physical state. “Naturally, I’ll be fit to play on Saturday.”

The hamstring he tweaked in training last Friday was no longer a problem, he continued, and he had received the green light from the Turkey medical unit on Monday. Altintop has high hopes of appearing in his country’s Euro 2008 opener against Portugal: “I’m looking forward to it more and more every day.”

Just-in-time comeback

Altintop has been a doubt for the continental showdown since late March when he fractured a metatarsal in an international friendly against Belarus. He was in plaster for several weeks and missed the last phase of the German domestic season, before starting out on an intensive recuperation programme.

His comeback for Turkey came just 13 days before Euro 2008 in a 3-2 warm-up defeat to Uruguay. He started a final pre-tournament friendly against Finland last Thursday, but was substituted after pulling a muscle. The next day’s news reported him as doubtful for the contest in Austria and Switzerland with a hamstring injury.

Aiming to do well

“I really don’t know who started those stories,” the 25-year-old mused, never doubting he would be fit in time. A precautionary examination and treatment from Bayern chief medical officer Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt confirmed the right-sided player’s personal opinion.

Altintop is aiming high in his first appearance at a major tournament. “I’m convinced of our ability to do well at the Euro,” he commented after the Turks moved into their Geneva tournament base. Apart from Portugal, Hamit and his team-mates face Switzerland and the Czech Republic in Group A.

High expectations

Turkey head coach Fatih Terim believes Altintop has a vital role to play in his team’s efforts to seal a quarter-final berth. “Hamit is one of our most important weapons. He can beat an opposing team all on his own, and could become one of the star players at the European championships,” the national supremo declared.