Martínez: It’s a bit better every day

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The charming smile returned to Javi Martínez' face a long time ago. The Spaniard has banished the memory of a fateful 13 August 2014 and the German Super Cup final against Borussia Dortmund when he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his left knee. The talented player's long and wearisome road to recovery is slowly but surely coming to an end.

"I'm a little bit better with every passing day," an upbeat Martínez said in Doha. The midfielder focused on his fitness over the holidays. "I worked hard on my knee every day," he reported, "so I've come back feeling good." He is already capable of light exercise and jogging. "That was good for me mentally," admitted the 26-year-old, "it gives you the feeling you're getting nearer."

The priority for Martínez at the moment is to build up muscle tone. "That's the most difficult bit," said the defensive specialist, "it takes a lot of hard work." However, he is no longer confined to the weights room and is back in the vicinity of his team-mates. "It's good to be with the squad," he commented, while admitting to a sense of regret from time to time: "Watching my team-mates play sometimes makes me sad. My exercises are much more boring. It hurts in the head."

The players and also Pep Guardiola have been making sure contact is maintained. "We talk every day. He's keeping informed about my recovery and asks me how I am," Martínez smiled. Javi has also taken advice from Holger Badstuber: "He told me to be cautious. Sometimes you think everything's fine, but then you get a nasty moment and something reacts. That's why I'm trying to be careful and take it one step at a time!"

No date has been set for the Spaniard's yearned-for comeback, although there is a rough outline plan for his return to team training. "I'm hoping to be back with the squad in March," he commented, "but it all depends on the knee." The midfielder is looking forward to intense sessions with the ball at his feet: "I need a ball with me the whole time."

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