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Christopher Buchtmann made his first start in three months in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Arminia Bielefeld, impressing not only because his goal. After the initial frustration of the late equaliser the midfielder is now looking forward with optimism.

"Straight after the game we were obviously disappointed," said Buchtmann. "To concede the equaliser with the last kick of the game was a sickener, but we need to get our heads back up as soon as possible now because there's no point in dwelling on it." Buchtmann is not one to moan and pointed to the response after the no less demoralising defeat against Stuttgart, which the Boys in Brown soon put behind them: "No one expected us to get back in contention so quickly but we believed in ourselves and did it by our own efforts."

During his injury layoff Buchtmann was guided back to full fitness by athletic coach Janosch Emonts, rehab coach Valentin Lange and the medical department. To such good effect that he ran 12.36 kilometres on his return to the side against Bielefeld, more than any other player. "I feel top fit and have enough fuel in the tank, which indicates the quality of the rehab work," he said. "Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back."

That Buchtmann was back in the goals at Arminia is not merely down to chance. "After the departure of Marc Rzatkowski I was asked to do more going forward," he explained. "That came off in the first half of the season and did so again on Sunday," added the 24-year-old, who scored his third goal of the season at Bielefeld. "I created some space for myself while my marker was focused on the ball. I then speculated a bit that Schuppan would open his legs. Hesl went the other way and it all came together."

It is to be hoped that things will continue in this vein, of course, but that isn't a given. In this respect the competition for places within the squad is proving very helpful. "It isn't doing the standard in training any harm, that's for sure. On the contrary, everyone wants to be involved at the weekend and is pushing himself to the limit. That's how it should be and then it's up to the boss to decide." Ewald Lienen handed Buchtmann his first start in almost three months against Bielefeld, a decision Buchtmann repaid with a good performance and a goal.

The midfielder is now hoping for another chance in the starting lineup against Karlsruhe, of course, and is already looking forward to the game: "At home under the floodlights in front of a packed crowd – you can't help being fired up. We want to continue our positive trend and get another result against Karlsruhe."


Photo: Witters