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Badstuber back

FCB take up mid-season training

At shortly before 2 pm on Wednesday, four-time Austrian Player of the Year David Alaba was the first FCB star to take to the Säbener Strasse turf for an individual workout with fitness coach Andreas Kornmayer. David returned to the club from his winter vacation on Monday and resumed his sports rehab programme as he recovers full fitness following a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and damage to the medial meniscus in his right knee sustained in November last year.

Alaba was followed a little over two and a half hours later by the rest of his team-mates, who returned from the holiday break and officially resumed training some 19 days after the last match of 2014, the 2-1 Bundesliga win away to Mainz. Thomas Müller led a total of 22 players out of the dressing room, followed by Pep Guardiola, FCB II keeper Leopold Zingerle, Sebastian Rode and youngster Gianluca Gaudino.

The group included Holger Badstuber for his first squad session after three and a half months on the sidelines. Mehdi Benatia also resumed team training following a groin strain. Keeper Tom Starke has all but recovered from a torn syndesmosis ligament in his left ankle and is gradually getting back into the squad workouts. Guardiola was still without injured trio Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez and Thiago, while Juan Bernat completed an individual programme in the performance centre.

Guardiola now has 23 days to ready his troops for the official Bundesliga restart fixture away to second-placed VfL Wolfsburg on 30 January. Following the pattern of the last three years, the fitness foundations will be laid in a nine-day training camp in Qatar from 9 to 17 January. Wednesday’s workout in Munich began with a few gentle drills involving the ball, before Guardiola supervised his men through a punishing session of running and sprints.

“We’ll be focused on the Wolfsburg match from the first day of training onwards,” sporting director Matthias Sammer said during the winter break. FCB will contest three friendlies in the build-up to the restart fixture, against the Qatar Stars on 13 January, Saudi Arabia’s most successful club Al-Hilal on 17 January, and away to second division VfL Bochum on 23 January. “It’ll be important for us to quickly recover our rhythm,” Sammer declared.