Ribéry's delight tinged with caution

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After exactly an hour of Saturday's meeting with Bremen, the fans at the Allianz Arena delightedly struck up a chorus of "Ribéry, Ribéry, Ribéry" as their hero finally returned to the fray. He had previously played for 22 minutes against Stuttgart five weeks ago and now managed a half-hour against Bremen; Franck's season stalled in late summer due to a painful inflammation of the kneecap. However, his promising comeback against Werder holds out hope of matters improving from now on. "I'm feeling good and the pain is gone," Ribéry said afterwards.

The Frenchman remains in no mood for euphoria, and no wonder: he knows only too well that the knee injury could yet flare up again after "the totally different stresses and strains" imposed by a full-on Bundesliga contest. "I've had two good weeks of training, but we have to take it slowly. That's the important thing," the 31-year-old warned.

Obviously, the player still revelled in his afternoon outing: "I'm delighted to be playing again." The rest of the squad also made no secret of their pleasure at their team-mate's return. "Franck knows he's an important member of the team," commented Thomas Müller, "it's obviously great for him when the fans sing his name. It's fantastic to see him back out on the pitch."

Ribéry is now keen to cement a regular place in the team by training hard and picking up match practice, although Tuesday's challenging Champions League trip to Rome probably comes a shade too early in the recovery process. "Obviously I want to play every game, but I don't think I'm ready yet," he honestly admitted. Patience in this case is an important virtue, but Ribéry could yet play a vital role - potentially as a super sub...


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