Bayer Leverkusen head coach Roger Schmidt is delighted to have Javier Hernandez in prime form ahead of the Champions League Group E clash with Monaco.
After being restricted to a diet of substitute appearances and occasional starts with Manchester United and Real Madrid, Hernandez relished life as Leverkusen’s attacking focal point last season – scoring 26 times in all competitions, including five in six Champions League outings.
The Mexico international missed the start of Leverkusen’s Bundesliga campaign after falling down the stairs at home and suffering a broken hand, but he was back to his brilliant best over the weekend, scoring a hat-trick as Schmidt’s men twice came from behind at Mainz to win 3-2.
“Javier Hernandez is a very important player for us because he scores goals,” Schmidt told a news conference at the Stade Louis II.
“Not only that, he also works hard for the team.
“At the start of the season he had a broken hand, which held him back. Now he’s scoring goals and we’re very happy for him.”
Leverkusen were held to a 2-2 draw by CSKA Moscow in their group opener, while Monaco were surprise 2-1 winners over Tottenham at Wembley.
Nevertheless, their domestic exploits over the weekend to secure only a second Bundesliga triumph of the campaign, means goalkeeper Bernd Leno could report on a travelling party in high spirits.
“The win in Mainz was important. With that win we could train with our heads up,” he said, speaking alongside his boss.
“Now we want to get our first Champions League win, even though we know it’s going to be difficult.”
Schmidt is hopeful he can have Lars Bender can join Hakan Calhanoglu in returning to action against Monaco and added: “Monaco take very few risks. You must be very patient against teams like this.”
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