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Ribéry’s little brother

Alaba hard at work on ‘last couple of percent’

“Not again! Poor David," murmured a fan watching Bayern's second workout in Qatar, as a prone David Alaba received treatment out on the pitch. But fortunately, the player soon picked himself up and rejoined the action. “Someone stood on my toe, so it only really hurt immediately afterwards," David explained.

It was a genuinely minor injury and a cause for relief all round, because the sight of Alaba lying injured on the training ground revived unhappy memories of Bayern's summer training camp in Trentino last July, when the 20-year-old sustained a stress fracture of the left foot in a friendly. David had already shown flashes of exceptional early-season form, but was suddenly sidelined for 12 weeks. It was the first serious injury in the Austrian player of the year's short but spectacular career so far.

“It wasn't easy," Alaba recalled when he spoke to in Doha. The stress fracture was partially due to a heavy training and playing burden over the previous year, a 12-month period in which the youngster’s stellar ascent never looked like ending. “But it was a huge setback," the left-back admitted.