Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger rejects doubts over fitness and form
Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger hopes to resume training with the ball in 10 days and believes he is on course to return to full fitness prior to the 2016 European Championship.
Manchester United midfielder Schweinsteiger, 31, has been sidelined with a knee ligament tear since early January and has been allowed time to fully recover by Louis van Gaal.
Earlier this week, Sport Bild reported growing concerns in Germany that the former Bayern Munich star, who has been working with Germany team doctor Hans-Wilhem Muller-Wohlfahrt, will not be in peak condition for Euro 2016, which begins in June.
Speaking to Bild on Thursday, though, Schweinsteiger said that he has "zero point zero percent" doubts about his return to the Germany team prior to the tournament.
"I am on a very good path," he said. "A ligament tear needs time, but everything is healing perfectly. Unless Euro 2016 is moved to early March, then it looks very good."
Schweinsteiger, who was sidelined with knee problems for a longer spell following the 2014 World Cup, said "injuries are sadly part of the business" but expressed gratitude that he has time to recover before the end of the season.
"It can happen at any time, also in a season before a big tournament," he said. "If it has to happen to me, the timing at least could have been worse. I know my body -- everything will be fine."
Schweinsteiger has played in 27 matches for Manchester United since his summer transfer from Bayern Munich, and he hopes to return to the team in March.
"I can start running again in about five days, and five days later I should back on the ball," he said. "The medical team in Manchester, as well as Hans-Wilhem Muller-Wohlfahrt, are pleased. I think I will be back in March."
Along with the concerns over his fitness, the presence of Sami Khedira, Ilkay Gundogan or Toni Kroos in the Germany squad has led to suggestions that Schweinsteiger may not play a pivotal role for the world champions this summer.
The Germany captain said the questions being asked "are way too loud" and added: "I am actually a bit surprised. We even led the league with Manchester United at one point in the first half of the season, despite a lot of bad luck with injuries.
"I played 27 games despite my ban and the injury. Of course, a few things could be better, but that line of thinking is a bit much."
He stressed that he did not believe his top-level career was over and cited his performance for Germany against Poland in September's 3-1 win, saying that at the time it had been described as "one of the best halves of my national team career."
Asked about his targets for this summer's tournament in France, he said: "We as a team will give it our all to win the European Championship."
Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff said earlier this week that Schweinsteiger needs Van Gaal's backing to get back to his best.