Since joining 1. FC Köln from 1. FC Nürnberg, central defender Dominic Maroh had not failed to make the team for three matches in any single season, much less three-consecutive.
Yet, the hamstring issue that prevented the 28-year-old veteran from participating in the latter segments of summer preparations have lingered long enough to have kept him in the trainers’ room through the seven-point start and into the international break.
Rehabilitation meant the Slovenian was also not off with his national team battling for Euro 2016 qualification last week, but instead emerged onto the training pitch to finally give a clear sign his return was imminent. Having participated in team activities for consecutive days this week, it appears that Maroh is finally ready to once again be available for Peter Stöger’s team selection.
For the coach, however, it’s not a simple matter of a player returning from injury reclaiming the spot he’s largely owned the last three seasons.
“With us, nobody is entrenched,” says Stöger of Maroh’s return to training and prospects of playing this Saturday against Eintracht Frankfurt. “We know what we owe our guys, but everyone in a professional business knows that that which was three weeks ago is no longer of interest to anyone.”
Newcomers Dominique Heintz and Frederik Sørensen have made themselves at home in the middle of the effzeh back row, contributing well to the successful season start. Stöger’s way has typically been to let his players compete for their playing time, both with their match performances, but also in midweek training sessions, but he’s also keen to take a longer view in order to keep the season goals in mind.
“We still have great tasks before us. I don’t know whether it’s absolutely necessary to chase him into the team this weekend,” offers Stöger. “We will discuss it with all stakeholders – we aren’t taking any risks.”
You might take that to mean that Maroh is unlikely to be thrust into the starting eleven come Saturday, but don’t be too surprised to see him on the bench and maybe get a chance to knock some of the rust off with an abbreviated run against Eintracht’s well-stocked arsenal of offensive weaponry.
Until then, however, enjoy Philip Sagioglu’s video of Maroh from last week when Maroh returned to on-ball training.
— Philip Sagioglou (@psagioglou) September 2, 2015