You can expect to see one or two tired faces from the Werder players as they train hard during the intensive camp in Zell am Ziller, Austria. However, Fin Bartels has a beaming smile. The attacker, who battled a long term injury during the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign, is back in full training and has put the first session of the training camp behind him. “I can give everything I have once again and fully participate. There will be a few more individual sessions to catch up on a couple of things but in general, I'm feeling good,” explained Bartels on Saturday.
After rupturing his Achilles tendon in December 2017, the 32 year-old has been out for the last 18 months but did managed to make a short comeback earlier this year. Bartels has also struggled with muscle problems which delayed any potential comeback even further. He did managed to play two Regionalliga matches for Werder’s U23 side before making two short Bundesliga appearances for the first team off the bench. He was unable to make any further progress towards a permanent comeback as there were always mental obstacles to overcome. “My body may have simply needed this long break,” he says.
After months without regular training, Bartels is now feeling pain all over his body. However, these are good pains, such as aching muscles. It is still uncertain, however, as to whether Bartels will feature in Sunday’s friendlies against Karlsruhe and Austrian side Wattens. “We will speak about this in more detail. Of course I would like to play at least a few minutes. However, I haven’t played nor fully trained for a long time. It always takes a couple of days to settle back into the routine,” said Bartels.
One thing is clear for the 32 year-old, however, he wants to attack once more. This is despite the competition in attack and despite his 18 month absence from the first team. While Bartels has only been able to watch on from the stands, several new faces have been signed in attack for the Green-Whites. These include Milot Rashica, Martin Harnik, Yuya Osako and Niclas Füllkrug. Florian Kohfeldt’s tactics have also developed a lot since Bartels suffered his injury.
Bartels has missed a lot and this has irritated him. “I want to be part of things again and I'm taking on the challenge of competing against the quality we have. When I came here I was also a clear challenger, which worked brilliantly.” At that time, it wasn’t clear what sort of role Bartels would play in the Werder squad as he signed from Bundesliga 2 side St Pauli. This is also the case today: “However, I’m not finished yet. I want to continue to play football.”