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‘I need to be patient'

Badstuber’s step-by-step comeback

The smile has returned to Holger Badstuber’s face at last. The centre-back has now made three 90-minute appearances in a row in the Bundesliga, and that is as near as it gets to perfect for the FCB youth product who has suffered so much by way of serious injury over the last couple of years. “I’ve reacclimatised to the training and playing rhythm. I’ve taken another step forward,” the 25-year-old said on Monday.

After twice rupturing a cruciate ligament, Badstuber worked his way back into first-team contention last summer, only to be stopped in his tracks by a ruptured tendon. He was forced to sit out 17 matches, the equivalent of half a season, but made his latest comeback in mid-February in the 8-0 thrashing of Hamburg. He produced a faultless display, prompting Pep Guardiola to pick him again in the starting XI for the meetings with Paderborn and Köln.

Designs on Germany spot

Badstuber is well and truly back. “I’m feeling good,” he confirmed in the build-up to the DFB Cup last sixteen tie against Braunschweig, “but I still need patience before I get back to the level where I think I should be. I’m well on the way, but there’s still some distance still to travel.”

Holger is aiming high, but that is not surprising given he was a regular for Germany before his injury misery. Naturally he is determined to regain his place in the national team, “but it’s something you have to earn, not with a couple of decent games, but over a longer period of time,” he explained.

Badstuber is ready to play if called upon on Wednesday night, as he for one does not currently need a break. Instead, he called on himself and his team-mates to reach “peak form” in the course of the next few matches. “We need this obsession and unyielding desire – not just the players but the whole club. That would give us a big chance of greatness this season.”