Naoto Sakurai has been talking about his continuing period of rehabilitation that has followed the knee ligament injury picked up against Urawa Reds in the Emperor's Cup semi-final at the end of December. The 30-year-old former Urawa and Verdy man went with the rest of the first team squad to Guam for the main pre-season training camp, but his participation was limited and the trip was taken mainly to allow gentle training in warmer conditions than Saitama.
Naoto Sakurai, back in training
On Tuesday, however, Sakurai took part in a proper game in training for the first time and although he wasn't involved in the play that much, it nevertheless helped him to get back into the swing of match football. 2005 was in fact an injury-hit campaign for the forward, but he said, "You can't be frustrated when these things happen - you just have to take things slowly, not get flustered and get your fitness back properly, even though you want to get back into playing as soon as possible. I'm still hopeful that things will go smoothly enough for me to be fit in time for the start of the season."