Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes is confident Manuel Neuer will return to full fitness ahead of this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia. The Germany international has yet to feature for the Bavarian giants due to a broken foot, but he is likely to make a comeback before the end of the season.
Speaking to reporters, Heynckes admitted that there is no hurry for Neuer to make his return, and the club are prepared to wait for his full recovery, he said: “We are not pressuring him. There is no timeframe, there is no deadline. Personally, I am convinced that he will play for us and will play in the World Cup but in the end that is something he has to decide, together with the medical team, when he returns. He can’t afford to take any risk and I don’t think he will.”
Neuer was Heynckes’ number one during his previous spell in charge (2012/13) when Bayern secured a historic treble, and the veteran coach is full of praise for the 31-year-old goalkeeper at a difficult phase in his career, he said: “Since I’ve been here I’ve been in touch with Manuel, of course. It’s not only that we celebrated great success together – I appreciated him not only as the world’s best goalkeeper but as a human being.”
Despite Neuer’s absence, Bayern have continued their dominance in the Bundesliga, and some of the credit should go to deputy Sven Ulreich, who has been solid between the sticks. The 29-year-old started the campaign with a couple of shaky displays, but his form under Heynckes has also caught the eye of national team boss Joachim Loew.
Germany have a number of top-class shot-stoppers who have been groomed through their top-flight, but even Loew has stressed the importance of Neuer, who has exceptional confidence with the ball at his feet. The 31-year-old produced one of his best performances in a sweeper-keeper role against Algeria in the previous World Cup.