Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has backed injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to return in time for the World Cup.
Germany international Neuer has not played for the Bundesliga champions for five months due to a foot problem and will be the only injury absentee when they travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Although Heynckes remains unsure when the 31-year-old will be fit for action, he is confident he will play again before the end of the season.
“The physiotherapists and doctors will decide when is the right time for his return,” said Heynckes, according to Bayern’s Twitter feed.
“But I am convinced that he will be playing with us before the World Cup.”
Neuer’s last game was a 4-0 victory over Mainz on September 16.
Back-up keeper Sven Ulreich has deputised since then, with Bayern building an 18-point lead at the top of the table as they cruise towards a sixth successive league title.
The Bavarians have also received some positive news on the injury front, with midfielder Thiago Alcantara set to return from three months out with a torn thigh muscle to replace the banned Arturo Vidal.
“Thiago has again taken part in the team training and will play as advertised in Wolfsburg from the very beginning,” added Heynckes, whose side face Besiktas in the Champions League second round next week.
Heynckes missed last weekend’s 2-1 home victory over Schalke due to flu.
He admitted he slept through the opening 35 minutes of the game and, following recent illnesses for some of his players including Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Javi Martinez, has advised his players on how to stay healthy.
“On Saturday, I lay down at 4.15pm and do you know when I woke up? At shortly after seven o’clock,” he said, according to bild.de.
“The Bayern Munich game against Schalke was already 35 minutes (in). I really had a bad conscience.”
He added: “I summoned the team and pronounced preventive measures. You do not have to be 72 to get flu.
“I have called for vitamins, minerals, not to go out with wet hair, to be dressed warm enough – especially after games, when the immune system is a little struck, not with a thin training jacket to leave the stadium.
“But you know how young people are…”
Some of Wolfsburg’s fans plan to boycott the opening of the game in protest at their side’s poor form.
Under-pressure coach Martin Schmidt has won just one of the previous eight league games to leave his 13th-placed team just four points above the bottom three.
He believes injuries are holding them back.
“At the moment we are not raising our game, but rather continuing on level ground, because we are carrying a considerable weight on our shoulders,” Schmidt told vfl-wolfsburg.de.
“We seldom, or basically never, have the complete squad at our disposal.
“I firmly believe that when some of the absentees return and we get a couple of good results, we can really take off.”
Liverpool loanee Divock Origi has been suffering with illness and is doubtful, along with Daniel Didavi and Paul Verhaegh.
Die Wolfe will definitely be without John Brooks, Ignacio Camacho, Felix Uduokhai, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Gerhardt.
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