Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel insists his side cannot become distracted by talk of captain Mats Hummels’ future as they attempt to chase down Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga title race.
Dortmund’s DFB-Pokal semi-final victory over Hertha Berlin on Wednesday has been overshadowed by Hummels’ father and agent Hermann openly discussing alternative options for his son, whose contract expires in 2017.
A return to Bayern – where the 27-year-old defender started his career – has been mentioned, as has a switch to Manchester City, but Tuchel was adamant the player himself has done little wrong ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stuttgart.
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything new – these are questions only Mats can answer,” he said when asked about the Germany international.
“Mats Hummels’ comments are his right. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
“We have a Bundesliga game on Saturday and there is no room for distractions.”
Dortmund travel south knowing a defeat, coupled with a Bayern win at Hertha Berlin, will hand their rivals a record fourth successive Bundesliga title.
Tuchel is hoping to avoid that scenario and build on their Cup success in the capital.
He added: “The mood after Berlin was relaxed, but not exuberant. We want to stay competitive and play to win. I expect that the team is now fully concentrated on the league.”
Stuttgart are 15th in the Bundesliga table, just a place and two points above the relegation play-off place, but Tuchel does not expect an easy afternoon at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
“I think Stuttgart have the biggest discrepancy between their position in the table and their performance potential,” he said.
“We must be sharp on Saturday and prepare to push ourselves to our limit. We will prepare the same way we did for the cup semi-final.”
Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains sidelined while Sven Bender, Marcel Schmelzer and Ilkay Gundogan are all doubtful.
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