Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger is currently out injured Getty

Germany national team coach Oliver Bierhoff has hit back at Louis van Gaal following recent criticism of Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Manchester United manager said in December that Schweinsteiger, 31, had failed to match the standards he had set during his time at Bayern Munich.

But Bierhoff has dismissed Van Gaal's remarks, describing them as "unfortunate". Bierhoff also rubbished the idea that Schweinsteiger's status as the national team captain was under threat.

"Every player needs the backing of the coach, the same goes for Bastian. Generally, I find it unfortunate if a coach publicly criticises a player so hard," he said, according to Bild. "I think with the prospect of participating as a captain in a European Championship, motivation and concentration will come back [for Schweinsteiger].

"On Bastian's position, competition is keen, which we already saw from the World Cup. I assume that Bastian will be at the Euros. He is an important part of the team."

The United midfielder has been sidelined since January with injury, but Bierhoff insisted he has no worries about the World Cup-winning star. "I am in constant contact with Bastian. His current injury doesn't worry me. Generally speaking, I think it's good if players are able to completely recover from their injuries," he said of the United player.

"I know Bastian is absolutely focused on the Euros, and I have every confidence that he will prepare thoroughly and do anything for it. He is in our plans."

In December, meanwhile, Van Gaal claimed Schweinsteiger had regressed since he had coached him during their time at Bayern. "I cannot say that he was the Schweinsteiger from my period in Munich today," he explained, before adding earlier this month: "During December I said that I expect more and he was very disappointed I said that, but I think I can say that because my expectation is higher."