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Ziereis cannot wait to return to action

Philipp Ziereis has been working hard on his return to fitness ever since he sustained a muscle tendon injury at the back of his left thigh on the final day of last season. He now hopes to be able to ease his way back into full training next week.

It happened on the 34th and final matchday of last season. The moment of shock came after about half an hour of the game against Bochum, and Ziereis was unable to continue. "I didn't realise at first just how bad the injury was," he said. "The tendon doesn't normally tear, after all. It was a real sickener, especially on the final day." The 24-year-old centre-back had had other plans for the summer break. "I had to cancel my holiday and instead go for an operation. I spent five days in hospital in Tübingen unable to move. It wasn't a very easy time for me."

The weeks after the injury dragged on as well. Ziereis had to cut everything short and focus fully on his recovery. "I had to wear a brace for the first six weeks. I couldn't sit properly and had to go everywhere on crutches," he recalled. "The priority at that time was to keep the leg still to allow the muscle to grow back together. Ziereis was still sidelined when training resumed on 16 June. "That's the day we started and I couldn't be there. Instead, I was in rehab in Donaustauf. It was especially difficult knowing the others were training and I couldn't be a part of it."

You have more free time when you're fit.
Philipp Ziereis

After a positive routine examination Ziereis slowly began to get back on his feet: "It wasn't that easy because my leg and knee were a bit rusty, of course," he explained. "We had to take one day at a time and gradually build everything up, from walking and running to weight training. As a footballer I'd obviously have preferred to be doing other stuff rather those runs back then, but I kept focused on my goal. You're always thinking how long to go until you can play again. I worked six to eight days every day while I was in rehab. Any player who's ever been injured knows you have more free time when you're fit."

Ziereis was glued to his set whenever his teammates played, of course. "I thought we made a very good start to the season," he said. "I was really impressed by the way we played at Bochum and at home against Dresden. The defeat against Ingolstadt was a huge disappointment, of course, but you do have those days when nothing comes off. I still think we're on the right track, though. The important thing is to show the right level of application and that's what we're doing. The lads are going at full throttle."

The centre-back is optimistic, if a little cautious, as far as the next few weeks are concerned: "I hope I can join in part of the training with the rest of the squad in a week's time. We'll then see how the muscle is progressing and how I feel. I have a lot of catching up to do, after all. I can't say exactly when I'll back to 100% again. It's difficult to make a forecast because something can always happen, but I've been waiting for the moment when I'm back on the pitch with a ball at my feet for weeks. I simply haven't been able to do that for the last few months, which is an ordeal for any player, of course. When the moment finally comes, I'll simply enjoy being able to play football again."

Photos: Witters

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