Werder Bremen striker Aron Johannsson showing the green-white shoots of recovery under Florian Kohfeldt
The 27-year-old had a direct hand in both goals as Bremen secured a last-gasp win over Schalke last weekend – a result that lifted the Green-Whites out of the relegation zone for the first time since the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign. He then followed up that praiseworthy performance with a wonderfully taken goal – his first since September 2016 – in the midweek DFB Cup quarter-final defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.
“Aron played really well,” Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt said of Johannsson’s energetic run-out against Bayer. “I didn’t take him off because of his performance. He picked up a knock to his hip, and it went numb, but it’s nothing we need to worry about. He should return on Sunday for the Wolfsburg game.”
The diagnosis will come as much as a relief to Kohfeldt as it does to Johannsson. The Alabama native has been beset by injury since moving to Bremen from Dutch side Alkmaar in summer 2015, sitting out 49 matches and featuring in just 22 – for the most part because of a serious hip problem. He fell down the pecking order as a result and was widely expected to take his search for fitness, form and first-team football elsewhere.
Kohfeldt had other ideas. The Bremen boss, having been brought in to replace Alexander Nouri at the start of October, reintroduced Johannsson – who had been struggling with a minor knee complaint – as a substitute in the Matchday 18 draw with Hoffenheim. He has been involved in two of Werder’s three Bundesliga games since, and made his first start in 16 months in the cup game with Leverkusen – on the right wing as opposed to in his tried and tested centre-forward role.
“I think Aron can play in a few different positions,” Kohfeldt explained. “I got a few laughs when I said he should play out wide, but he’s been doing a great job. He attacks and defends well and he doesn’t just play to have fun. He always wants to win and he is a really hard worker. I like guys like that.”