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Depleted squad

International break offers chance to recuperate

After two days off, the Bayern stars returned to their regular workplace on Tuesday, although the group supervised by coach Jürgen Klinsmann at the Säbener Strasse performance centre was decidedly modest in size. Eight of the squad are away with their national teams on World Cup qualifying duty, and another four are unable to train due to injury.

Miroslav Klose is still in the recuperation phase following an ankle operation, while Luca Toni is away in Bologna shaking off the last of his niggling Achilles problems. Hamit Altintop (torn muscle) and Massimo Oddo (calf) are at the transition stage before returning to the full squad programme. That left Klinsmann with just eight fit players, including two goalkeepers, but the diminished group still completed two training sessions on Tuesday.

Good timing

The two-week break “comes at the right time,” general manager Uli Hoeneß remarked. Ahead of a crunch Bundesliga showdown away to VfL Wolfsburg, described by Klinsmann as “another final”, and the Champions League duels with Barcelona, Germany’s most successful club will spend the next ten days restoring as many as possible of the absentees to the ranks.

“It might be pretty good having the break now. It’s a chance to recover,” commented Michael Rensing after the tight 1-0 victory over bottom club Karlsruhe at the weekend. The Wolfsburg clash would be “one of the truly decisive matches against genuine title rivals,” the FCB number one agreed, “it’s vital we go there and take three points.”

Toni at 99.9 percent

Toni’s likely return is regarded as critical at the club. “We’ve agreed a very detailed programme with Luca for the next two weeks,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reported. The coaching staff had not been prepared to risk the Italian in the last two matches against Bochum and KSC. “But there’s a 99.9 percent chance he’ll play against Wolfsburg, and then in the Champions League against Barcelona.”

Hoeneß voiced agreement: “It’s the right time for a break, because Luca Toni will be fully fit in two weeks.” The burly target man’s absence painfully made itself felt in the second half against Karlsruhe. “We’ll soon have more options in attack, and that’ll help everyone.”

Oddo set to return

One option currently closed to the coach is Klose, unlikely to return to contention until late April at the earliest. On the bright side, Oddo is expected to resume the squad programme this week, and Altintop could be fit enough to rejoin his team-mates during the week after that. However, it is too early to say whether the Turkey star might be a candidate for the Wolfsburg trip.