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'What I need is training'

Martínez 'very happy' after comeback

He gave his legs a last stretch, he pulled up his socks - and then Javi Martínez was back. The Spaniard came on as a 64th-minute sub in the home meeting with Hertha BSC. It was a moment he had been looking forward to for a long time. “I’m feeling good and it’s great to be back with the team,” the midfielder told Javi has “almost forgotten” the long period in rehab, he insisted.

Martínez has been reduced to the role of spectator for almost two months. In early September, only four days after his vital late strike in the UEFA Supercup against Chelsea, he was forced to undergo groin surgery. He then started out on a gruelling and energy-sapping programme of sports rehabilitation. Now, the 25-year-old is finally back where he wants to be - out on the pitch.

But over the long term, which position will he fill? In his comeback appearance, Martínez played where he spent the whole of last season: as one of two holding midfielders, bringing his aerial prowess and tackling strength to bear in front of the back four. However, commented Pep Guardiola: “Javi can play everywhere: in central defence, in the holding role, as one of two central midfielders. He can also play as a striker, like he did against Chelsea. That’s good news for us. I’m really pleased we have him.”

Aiming for peak condition

Martínez himself says he “doesn’t care” which position he plays. Being in the team is the only thing that matters to him. He is working towards his goal every day. “What I need now is training, so I can recover peak form as quickly as possible,” he observed.

The eight-day period without a midweek match has come at just the right moment. “It means we have time to work hard with him,” Guardiola confirmed. The head coach had clearly been looking forward to his fellow-countryman’s return. “The Bayern fans know how important Javi is for us.”