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The new year could not have started better for Christopher Buchtmann, who resumed full training with the rest of the squad on Monday. After missing the last four games before the winter break due to injury, the midfielder is raring to go. The main task now, according to Buchtmann, is to ensure there is no let-up in intensity as the Boys in Brown look to keep the momentum going.

"I had to do a bit more than the others, in the end it was eight or nine sessions, but that was OK," said Buchtmann, referring to his personal training plan for the 14-day winter break. The sessions were important to ensure the midfielder could start the new year as fit as possible. "I'm not in any pain. I was able to take full part in the first few sessions and go flat out again straightaway," he added.

Buchtmann went into the winter break injured four years ago and again the year before last (foot laceration and MCL sprain), so the situation was nothing new for the midfielder. What is new, however, is the position he and his teammates find themselves in going into the second half of the season. The Boys in Brown resume the campaign third in the table, their best placing in many a year.

Markus Kauczinski's side will hope to start where they left off in December, then, but Buchtmann knows only too well that nothing can be taken for granted: "If we want to dig in at the top end of the table, we have to keep playing the way we did before the winter break. We can't afford to let up or take things easy. The moment we're satisfied with what we've got is the moment we start going backwards. We'll keep taking each game as it comes and then give it all our best shot. We did that really well in the first half of the season, when we had to overcome a number of setbacks."

On the subject of setbacks, Buchtmann had plenty of them to deal with himself, missing six of the 18 games played so far, i.e. one in every three. "Obviously I can't wait to get playing again," said Buchti, whose last appearance came at Regensburg in late November before a torn hamstring at the back of his right thigh put him out of action for the rest of the year. "Watching from the stands is never easy but because the lads were doing well it wasn't so bad," he continued.

Buchtmann made his last appearance at Regensburg in late November.

Buchtmann made his last appearance at Regensburg in late November.

Despite making "just" 12 appearances so far, Buchtmann is the club's second highest scorer along with Dimitrios Diamantakos with four goals (Henk Veerman leads the way on six) and also has an assist to his name. "I'm confident I can beat my previous best and will do everything I can to do just that," said the midfielder, who contributed six goals and two assists in the 2016/17 season.

The club's preparations continue in southern Spain from this Thursday. "Thanks to the undersoil heating the conditions here are so good now it's not imperative that we go away, but training camps are very important for building the sense of togetherness in the squad, of course," said Buchtmann. It also gives new recruit Alex Meier an opportunity to get to know the rest of the players. "Alex has demonstrated his quality often enough during his career," the midfielder said. "He's good on the ball and is an excellent finisher. I'm sure he'll be of help to us."


Photos: Witters

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