BERLIN - Bayern Munich captain Mark van Bommel and striker Luca Toni could not have timed their return from injury any better as the Bavarians struggle to stay in touch with the top spots after a bad start to the season.
Plagued by a spate of injuries that have already put attacking midfielder Arjen Robben, playmaker Franck Ribery and striker Ivica Olic out of contention for the match against promoted Freiburg on Saturday, Bayern will be looking at Toni and van Bommel for help.
Bayern have only won three times in eight league matches this season, lying in eighth place, eight points off the top.
"The gap to the top is not a worry for me because it is still early in the season," said van Bommel, who returned earlier this week in a friendly against third-division Regensburg.
"We need the old Bayern arrogance," said van Bommel. "When we step onto the pitch we must not ask ourselves if we will win but by how much we will win."
Bayern lost the friendly against Regensburg 1-0, extending a goal drought that has now stretched to 364 minutes.
"We should not start panicking because of our current place in the standings," said van Bommel, who was out with a broken toe for nearly two months.
"We consistently dominate against our opponents but we are not scoring any goals. But we know we are playing good football and the points will start coming," the Dutchman said.
Italian Toni has yet to play this season, troubled by a heel injury that also saw him miss most of the pre-season training.
His only matches so far have been with the Bayern reserve team and against Regensburg.
With fellow strikers Miroslav Klose only recently back from injury and Mario Gomez in a slump, Toni could well make his first appearance as Bayern are eager to bag three points.
Bayern are on 12 points with leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg SV, both on 20 points, playing each other on Saturday.
Undefeated Hamburg have so far managed to remain at the top despite losing top strikers Paolo Guerrero and Mladen Petric to injuries that will keep them out for much of the season.
Leverkusen, who are the only other side not to have lost this season, will travel to Hamburg with Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kiessling in stunning form.
Third-placed Schalke 04 travel to VfB Stuttgart, who are desperate for a win after a disastrous start has left the pre-season favourites in 13th place, three points above the relegation zonecomments