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Schweinsteiger optimistic on Euros fitness

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is fitter than before the World Cup in 2014 but will be unable to play 90 minutes in Germany’s Euro 2016 opener.

The national team captain has not started a match since Manchester United’s victory over Sheffield United in the FA Cup on January 9, having spent much of 2016 battling a knee ligament injury.

The 31-year-old made a substitute appearance in Germany’s 2-0 friendly win over Hungary in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday.

And while the midfielder is encouraged by his progress, he knows the Group C clash with Ukraine in Lille next weekend is likely to arrive too soon for him to force his way into the starting XI. 

“[To play] 25 to 30 minutes is quite good,” Schweinsteiger was quoted as saying by Suddeutsche Zeitung.

“But 90 minutes in the first game is not likely. I’m definitely fitter than I was before the 2014 World Cup, when I could hardly do anything,” he added, referring to the tendon problems that threatened his participation in Germany’s successful campaign in Brazil two years ago.

Joachim Low acknowledged Schweinsteiger is badly lacking match practice, while the coach calmed fears over holding midfielder Sami Khedira, who was taken off at half-time at Veltins-Arena. 

It remains to be seen if Mats Hummels will recover from a calf tear in time to feature alongside Jerome Boateng at centre-back, with Roma’s Antonio Rudiger proving a capable deputy against Hungary.

“Schweinsteiger of course has no rhythm,” Low said.

“With Hummels we have to wait and see. The substitution of Sami Khedira was just a precaution.

“It was important to keep a clean sheet, that gives us a good feeling for the next week.”

Germany’s goal was unbreached for the first time since thrashing Gibraltar 7-0 in June 2015 and Boateng felt the performance was an improvement on the surprise 3-1 loss to Slovakia last time out. 

“We started very well and moved the ball well – [although] perhaps [our passes were] a little bit too long,” he said. 

“In the second half we had too many turnovers, but overall it was good. I think we can be satisfied [that] we played better than the last [game].”

Meanwhile, Hungary coach Bernd Storck made no apologies for his team’s safety-first approach and revealed they will play the same way in their Group F meeting with Austria in Bordeaux on June 14.

“We tried hard to play from the back,” he said.

“Obviously it was tough to play against such a hard opponent. We knew we would be put under pressure. We gave our best and gave a good account of ourselves. Our strengths are our defensive compactness. We will do the same against Austria.”

Sat 4 Jun, 2016
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