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Arp staying at Hamburg, stunning Bayern

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U.S.'s Wood optimistic after 'most difficult year'

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U.S. striker Wood tells Hamburg he wants move

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VfL WolfsburgVfL Wolfsburg
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Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol backs Bobby Wood after criticism

Bobby Wood struggled to make an impression against Darmstadt.

Hamburg coach Markus Gisdol has defended U.S. forward Bobby Wood after he was criticised for his performance in the home defeat to bottom-placed Darmastadt.

Wood failed to make an impression during the 2-1 loss and was given a score of six by kicker -- the lowest in the German football magazine's ratings system.

But Gisdol backed the 24-year-old, who has been linked with Borussia Dortmund after some impressive performances this season.

He said transfer speculation was "immaterial" and that the minor knee injury that caused Wood to miss Hamburg's recent game at Bremen had been a factor.

"Bobby is a super lad and totally focused," Gisdol added. "He lacks a bit of training rhythm because of his knee injury."

Although Wood is under contract at Hamburg until 2020, a release clause allows him to leave for around €12 million in the summer and €5m if Hamburg are relegated.

The club, one point clear of the relegation playoff place -- occupied by Augsburg, who they play on Sunday -- have said they are in talks with Wood about a new deal.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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