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Sobota aiming to bounce back after difficult year

There's no question that the 2018/19 season did not go at all according to plan for Waldemar Sobota. A permanent fixture in the side in recent years, the attacking flank player missed a lot of games through injury. The 32-year-old now intends to work hard during the summer break to mount another challenge when training resumes on 23 June.

"I had no idea of the stats, but they do reflect the past year for me," said Sobota on being told that he had contested just 15 of the 34 league games last season. Having missed just 18 games in total since his move to the Millerntor in January 2015 until the start of the 2018/19 campaign, last season that figure was 19. "I'd hardly missed a training session until I tore the plantar fascia in my foot in early 2018," he said. "I was never really injured, so last season was tough. It felt like I was injured the whole year. Every time I got an injury, I tried to come back quickly, only to hit a brick wall again. It wasn't an easy time for me.

"I've been playing football for quite a while now, but I've never had as much bad luck as I had last season," Sobota added. "I hope I never have another year like it." The wide man is laying the foundations for an injury-free campaign in Poland at present, working to a rehab plan put together by our functional fitness coaches. "Everything has been agreed with them and our medical department," continued Sobota, who was dogged by groin problems during the second half of the season. Then, in early April, he sustained a high ankle sprain in the game at Holstein Kiel that kept him out for the rest of the season.

Waldemar Sobota drives past Ingolstadt's Mergim Mavraj.

Waldemar Sobota drives past Ingolstadt's Mergim Mavraj.

Towards the end of the campaign, Sobota started running, cycling and working in the gym again. While most of his teammates went off on holiday or to the United States, he was stepping up his training programme." During the summer break, I'll do everything I can for my body to make sure I resume training injury-free," he said. "Obviously I hope to be in good physical shape when we return. I want to mount another challenge next season."

The Polish wingman is prepared to go without a holiday to achieve that goal. "I haven't planned anything yet because I'm making it dependent on my health and fitness," he said. "If I feel good, I'll go to the Mediterranean for a week, but if I've still got some catching up to do, I'll keep up the rehab until the start of pre-season. I've set myself the target of returning fully fit and bouncing back next season. I want to play as many games as possible, like I did in previous years."

Sobota hopes to have put a difficult year fully behind him by the time training resumes and is already raring to go. "I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch," he said. Another reason to be excited about the new season is the playing philosophy of Jos Luhukay. "The way the lads played in the last few games with the new gaffer's approach made me want to join in. His philosophy helps the attacking players and will suit me as well."

According to Sobota, the six matches under Luhukay are a precursor for the new season. "A lot of players have already got to know the new system," he said. " When we resume training with a much shorter injury list, we'll get to know it even better and internalise it more. Eventually, everyone will have grasped how the coach wants us to play. And if we put it into practice, we can be successful."

After a successful first half of the season last term, the Boys in Brown tailed off after the turn of the year and eventually finished ninth. So what are the prospects for next season? "You can never tell in this league," said Sobota, "no matter which teams go up or come down. I don't see any team running away with it, it's more likely to stay exciting right to the end – at both ends of the table. I'm looking forward to it whatever happens. I aim to stay fit and get as much playing time as possible. I'm also looking forward to the derbies. We've got a lot to make amends for after completely messing up in the second game."

 

Photos: Witters

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