Wednesday morning. Sinsheim. 10 CET. TSG first team training. Adam Szalai? He’s there. Robert Zulj? He is too. Ermin Bicakcic and Serge Gnabry? They’re both present. Szalai and Zulj have been training with the team for the last week but now Gnabry and Bicakcic are back too. Cumulatively, the four players have missed more than 200 days of action in the last few months. Muscle tear. Pelvic injury. Cruciate ligament damage. Hamstring injury. Now they are all back. And they’re very happy about it. “I’m just so happy to be back in training with the boys. It’s a great feeling,” Bicakcic said - who has been out since the first game of the Europa League group stages. He picked up a knock in the 2-1 loss to Sporting Braga and was substituted at half-time in that game.
Adam Szalai has been out for even longer, after injuring his thigh on international duty with Hungary at the start of September and he’s been on the sidelines since then. “The games are the worst for me. I don’t like having to watch the team from the stands and not being able to help. I prefer not watching from the stadium. It’s hard for me.” Therefore the attacking player is delighted to be back in training with the squad. “After weeks of rehab, it is great to be back fit again and to be able to do my job for the team,” the 29-year-old said. His fellow teammate Ermin Bicakcic has also been in rehabilitation training for the past few weeks. The centre-back said, “The backroom staff are brilliant and they’ve done a really good job with me. I’d like to thank all the physios and the rehab coaches who have helped me get back to full fitness.”
“Get back to full fitness as quickly as possible”
Robert Zulj has been an absentee for longer than Szalai and Bicakcic. He has been out with a pelvic injury and is yet to make his debut for TSG. “It was a really tough time for me,” Zulj said about the first long-term injury of his career. “Throughout the time recovering, my motivation was to get back, to train with the team and make my first appearance for TSG.” Rehab coach Otmar Rösch was key in the attacking midfielder’s recovery, who arrived from Greuther Furth in the summer. “The physiotherapists have been so supportive and helped me with everything that I needed. Oti was crucial for my recuperation. It’s not just about the sporting side of it and his great training sessions but also about the personal side of it too. That was excellent. I trained with him every day and I got to know him really well. He cares so much about every player. He was extremely important in my healing process,” the Austrian said. Now he is enjoying the “wonderful feeling of being back with the team on the training pitches. I am thankful that I can train again, pain-free.”
Serge Gnabry also has that feeling, after a spell on the sidelines following an injury he picked up during the 2-0 home win against Schalke 04. The FC Bayern loanee has had a hamstring problem. “First team training is a big step, a completely different prospect compared to rehabilitation training. I am really excited to get back in training properly and work hard for the team again. I hope to be back to full fitness as quickly as possible,” Gnabry said. The forward has high expectations for TSG in the next few weeks. “I hope that we can get higher up the table and win as many games as possible.”
Szalai is a happy man
The foundations for success in the Bundesliga and in the Europa League are laid in training – Ermin Bicakcic is well aware of that fact and he was straight back into his stride in his first session back. “The knee is holding up, it feels good,” he said shortly after the session. Szalai, who was also interviewed alongside Bicakcic, said “I didn’t get hurt whilst making tackles today.” Bicakcic added, laughing, “He was in my team!” The returnees are in high spirits, after working hard to make their comebacks in the last few weeks and are now ready to help the team once more – great news for TSG, Julian Nagelsmann, his coaching staff and all the fans.
Seven games in 22 days before the international break has been strenuous for the TSG squad and so there are a few players out with knocks. Pavel Kaderabek (torn ligament), Benjamin Hübner (ankle), Meris Skenderovic, Dennis Geiger (both hamstring), Kerem Demirbay and Kevin Vogt (rested) were all absent from training on Wednesday. The feeling at TSG, however, is that the injury count will continue to decrease over the next week as TSG prepare for their home game in the Bundesliga against Eintracht Frankfurt.