It’s been a very frustrating season for Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
The shot-stopper has missed the majority of FCB’s campaign through injury, having fractured his foot on three occasions in the past year which resulted in surgery back in September.
The 31-year-old missed the back end of last season having suffered a hairline fracture in his foot back in March, but quickly returned to action following a minor operation.
He then (rather prematurely) played in both legs of Bayern’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid last season, before returning some 133-days later against Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
He then played a handful of games in September before limping out of training.
He hasn’t been seen in the first-team since.
Luckily, Bayern’s back-up goalie Sven Ulreich has been outstanding for the league leaders in his absence, while the national team are quiet mulling over the possibility that their captain could be unavailable for this summer’s World Cup; meaning the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp and Bernd Leno are eyeing a potential opportunity to take his place.
Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes recently spoke about Neuer’s recovery, and said he was confident he’ll be back to full fitness by the end of the season and could play for Die Mannschaft before the season’s end.
Heynckes said: “I haven’t told him he must be fit in February or March for Champions League games.
“I am not putting him under any pressure. But I am almost convinced that he will play for Bayern before the end of the season and will go to the World Cup.
“Manuel can’t afford to take any risks – it’s up to him, the doctors, physios, fitness trainers and I to decide when he can return to the training pitch.”
Barcelona’s ter Stegen – who many predict will replace Neuer in Germany’s World Cup line-up if he isn’t back in time – is adamant the goalkeeping great will return and deservedly retake the No 1 jersey.
Speaking to ESPN, he said: “When he comes back, he is the No 1, he deserves a lot of respect and I think all of us are trying to help him to be at his best because in the end it is a team situation, we want to be successful as Germany, so we always try to push our team members.”
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