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Punishing workout

Ribéry and Olic ‘making good progress’

Franck Ribéry buried the first pass right-footed into the bottom left corner, the second left-footed into the bottom right corner, and the third into the roof of the net. “Good Franck!” shouted assistant coach Andries Jonker time and again, praising the Frenchman for each piece of skill, before informing at the end of the session: “It looked pretty good.”

Ribéry last trained with the squad some four weeks ago, before a knee inflammation sent him to the sidelines. The player has spent most of pre-season working away on a tailored rehab programme, but the 26-year-old’s tiresome injury lay-off may soon be at an end.

Extra shift for attacking duo

Most of the players were awarded a day off on Tuesday, but Ribéry joined Ivica Olic, who is on his way back from a knee ligament injury, in a punishing workout focused on shooting practice. “Both of them are making good progress,” reported Jonker. Ribéry and Olic, who twisted his knee on the final day of the summer training camp in Donaueschingen, are likely to resume the squad programme on Wednesday.

Ribéry can hardly wait for that moment. “We reported back on 1 July, but I’ve only been involved in four or five training sessions since then. It’ll do me a lot of good to work out with the team again. I miss the football, and working out by yourself is no fun,” he confessed at the end of last week.

Comeback on Saturday?

It remains a possibility that either or both of Ribéry and Olic could yet return to the squad for Saturday’s Bundesliga restart fixture away to TSG Hoffenheim. “They’ve trained intensively yesterday and today. We’ll just have to wait and see if there’s any reaction to that," Jonker advised: “Let’s see how they get on when they’re back with the squad.”

Head coach Louis van Gaal said last week he might consider taking Ribéry to the Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim as a sub. Van Gaal wants the prodigiously skilled player to fill a playmaking role this season, but has been unable to try him out in any of the club’s pre-season friendlies. Olic last appeared three weeks ago in a 10-0 thrashing of Stuttgarter Kickers.