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Exclusive: Hamit Altintop

Injuries were 'a sort of chain reaction'

Hamit Altintop managed just eleven Bundesliga appearances last term, and seven of those were as a substitute. To say the Turkey international was plagued by injury is an understatement, but Altintop has already erased the memory of his annus horribilis and is looking forward to the new campaign under Louis van Gaal.

To ensure he hits the ground running in the pre-season preparation period, Hamit began reporting daily to fitness coach Darcy Norman on Friday last week for a personal conditioning programme. caught up with the 26-year-old, asking him about the lessons learned last year, and his goals for the new season.

Interview: Hamit Altintop Hamit, you're not required to report back to the club until Wednesday, but you've already been hard at work for several days. Why?
Altintop: "I had a few injury problems last season, and I went into the vacation carrying a muscular problem. That's why I've started early, because I want to get stuck in from the very first day.“ So you'll be part of the full squad programme right from the start?
Altintop: "Yes, I'm fully fit, and I'm just delighted we're getting going again.” You were very unlucky last season. You might almost say it was the proverbial annus horribilis for you.
Altintop: "Too right. I've never had a season like it. After the operation on my foot last summer, I had a string of minor injuries. I think it was a sort of chain reaction. I worked really hard after each setback, and kept coming within touching distance of the team. Ambition is good, but it can hurt you as well. I really felt that deeply last year.“ The competition at Bayern, especially in midfield, has become even more intense. How would you rate your chances in this unusually large squad?
Altintop: "I think the new signings mean the club has done the necessary towards achieving its goals in the new season. I see it in a positive light, because competition can only be a good thing. The main thing is for us to work together to achieve our shared goals.“ What are you expecting from new coach Louis van Gaal?
Altintop: "I've not got to know him yet, but I've heard lots about him. He's been in the business a long time, he's very experienced, and his expertise is proven. I'm sure he'll bring a few methods of his own with him. I hope he'll lead us to renewed success as a team.“ Rumours always dominate the headlines in the summer, and you were mentioned this time round. Anything to the stories?
Altintop: "The three major Istanbul clubs - Galatasaray, Fehnerbahce and Besiktas – are always linked with Turkey internationals playing overseas. It fills plenty of column inches, and I noticed my name cropped up a lot. But I've never thought about moving on, because I feel very much at home with Bayern.“