Badstuber: I’m taking it one step at a time

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There was a sense of déjà vu for Holger Badstuber on Sunday morning in Doha due to the squad warming up in an adjacent fitness hall rather than out on the pitch. It was the same hall where Badstuber pursued his sports rehab program every day during last year's Qatar training camp. But this time the squad soon ran out onto the practice ground and the 25-year-old was back where he has always been since training restarted four days ago, in the thick of the action.

"The early sessions are important for me as I get back into it. There are always new impulses and there's no comparison with individual training," Badstuber explained. The defender made an excellent comeback last summer after 20 months on the sidelines with a double crucial ligament injury, but a ruptured tendon in his thigh prevented him making further progress.

"It's been a hard slog, but hopefully I'm done with it now," Badstuber said. "My head is clear. The doctors have confirmed that everything's healed up very well." The first few squad sessions have boosted the player's confidence. "I'm feeling good and there's no trace of the injury any more," he reported, "I'm really enjoying it and simply looking forward to being on the move with the team again."

Any kind of training after a break brings with it a host of bumps and bruises, but Badstuber is positively enjoying the punishing programme. "I have to work hard because the team has reached a brutally high level. However, I want to be back in the thick of it again," he acknowledged, knowing he has "a long way to go" before recovering the physical and tactical standards required at Bayern. However, his initial comeback six months ago has encouraged him. "I was heading in the right direction back in August, September. I want to show it was no accident and keep on improving. I want to reach the level where I personally see myself as being."

Holger will be supported all the way by Pep Guardiola, an avowed fan of the centre-back. "I have no doubt as to his quality. When he's fit he's a top player," the coach said in Qatar. "Praise from the boss is always nice," responded Badstuber, who is hoping for a taste of match action during the mid-season period, potentially as early as Tuesday's meeting with the Qatar Stars.

Badstuber is determined to extract the maximum from the weeks running up to the second half of the season. "I'm trying to put myself forward more and more and prove I'm ready to be called on again," he said. However, he takes a realistic view of his current situation: "I mustn't want too much. I know I have to be patient, but I've learned a lot about patience. I'm taking it one step at a time."

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