BERLIN (AFP) - Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel admitted Friday (Jan 13) that he has become so frustrated by injuries to his star players that he feels like "biting the edge of the table".
Dortmund closed their eight-day camp in Marbella with a 3-0 win on Thursday over Belgium's Standard Liege when US international Christian Pulisic, 18, produced a superb opening goal with a deft lob.
Borussia, sixth in Germany's top flight, resume their Bundesliga campaign at Werder Bremen on January 21 before facing Benfica in the last 16 of the Champions League.
But Tuchel, who has retained Marcel Schmelzer as club captain, is frustrated by a fresh batch of injuries after stars like Marco Reus, Ousmane Dembele and Sokratis Papastathopoulos picked up new knocks.
Tuchel has yet to have his full squad fit this season and regularly had to contend with a lengthy injury list in the first half of the season.
As it was, Mario Goetze, Reus (both with back injuries), Sven Bender (foot), Nuri Sahin (fitness) and Sebastian Rode (ankle) were ruled out of the Liege win.
"I'm often left biting the edge of the table. Our desire was to have all our players here, but the reality was we had four youth team players on the pitch," Tuchel fumed after beating Liege.
The Dortmund boss says injuries have meant his plans are being "constantly thrown back".
Dembele, 19, picked up a hip injury on Tuesday and faces a race against time to face Bremen, as does Greece defender Sokratis, who picked up an ankle injury against Liege.
"It would be presumptuous to say 'it's all going to be fine'. It's often the same players who have problems to train intensively at a high level, which is definitely a problem," added Tuchel.
Reus is a good example.
The Germany winger, who only returned from a groin injury in November's 8-4 thrashing of Legia Warsaw, had been "fit and stable like never before" then suddenly complained of back pains "out of nowhere", said Tuchel.
Reus had been a possible replacement for Schmelzer as Dortmund's captain, but the latest knock ruled him out of being handed the skipper's armband.
"Marcel Schmelzer is, and remains, our captain, I spoke to them both (Reus and Schmelzer) and we were of the unanimous opinion that 'Schmelle' is a top captain and will continue to be," said Tuchel.