MUNICH: Germany defender Niklas Suele (pix) looked sharp in Bayern Munich training on Saturday and his efforts are boosted by the fact that he is finally playing again.
Suele, 24, played for the first time since he ruptured the cruciate knee ligament in mid-October, in the last half hour of Friday’s 1-0 victory over Olympic Marseille in a tune-up for their upcoming Champions League tasks.
“I’m happy to be back on the pitch with my teammates,” Suele said.
“When you play your first game after nine and a half months out, it’s clear that not all the technicalities are quite on it yet and that one’s energy levels are not yet up there, but I feel very good in terms of fitness. I have been working well.”
Coach Hansi Flick said “we are all happy that he is back on the pitch” and that Suele “has worked really hard” to return from a second career injury of this kind.
Suele’s return gives Flick “another option” as Munich eye a title treble after already clinching the German league and cup double.
Munich first have to complete their last-16 job against Chelsea, which they lead 3-0, next weekend to reach the one-legged mini-tournament finals in Lisbon Aug 12-23.
“Of course I need playing time now to get back to my old strength and then take the next step forward in the coming few weeks. If I’m needed, I’ll be there,” Suele vowed.
The centreback said he has worked hard to be fit for the delayed completion of the European event.
“I’ve been in team training for a few weeks now and have done a lot of work to even make it possible to play a few minutes today. It wasn’t an easy time for me. It took longer than I thought. I had to take time to fully recuperate,” he said.
Suele could see more playing time as a substitute if Bayern make it to Lisbon and then progress there through the rounds.
Flick also gave an indication how he plans to play the next games when midfielder Joshua Kimmich returned to his former rightback position in place of injured Benjamin Pavard.
The coach was satisfied overall with Friday’s performance, Munich's first match since they won the German Cup on July 4.
“I’m satisfied. It’s the details that we still have to work on in training in the next week. It was important for me to see that the players are ready to go again at a fast tempo, to have intensity in the game and to put our opponents under pressure,” he said.
“It was important to let the ball do the work. Defence is the foundation for success. We have the quality in attack, but it’s about reading the game well at the back. That’s where we’re very good. It’s a good start, but we’ll analyse this game very carefully.”
Suele’s return is meanwhile also good news for Germany coach Joachim Loew ahead of the Nations League openers Sept 3 against Spain and four days later against Switzerland. – dpa