?Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could potentially return from a long-term injury in time for the UEFA Champions League final.
?According to an article on the Bundesliga website, Neuer trained with the Bayern first team on Friday, taking part in the warm-up and doing some ball drills.
The keeper – who has won the Champions League with Bayern and the World Cup with Germany – has been out of action since September last year after fracturing his metatarsal.
However, his club coach Jupp Heynckes has said he is “delighted” with his first choice keeper’s “fantastic” work to come back from what was his second metatarsal fracture in just six months.
Speaking to the media, and quoted on the Bundesliga website, Heynckes said: “We’re all hugely delighted with how it’s gone. We’ve done everything right so far and the way he’s worked is fantastic.”
Nevertheless, the Bayern coach was reluctant to commit himself to a precise fixture for Neuer’s comeback: “It’s far too early to talk about [whether he’ll play in the DFB Cup final or the UEFA Champions League final]. I know what I’m doing. I have a clear plan.”
Even if Neuer returns in time to play in the Champions League for Bayern, or in the World Cup for Germany, it is far from a given that he will walk straight back into the starting lineup for either club or country.
Sven Ulreich has deputised admirably for Neuer for Bayern this season, conceding just 34 goals in 40 matches in all competitions and helping Bayern romp to the Bundesliga title – as well as progressing to the Champions League semi-finals, where they face Real Madrid on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena.
Ulreich’s coach was full of praise for his second-choice keeper’s performances this season: “His development has been phenomenal. After Manuel Neuer, Ulreich is the second-best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga.”
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Heynckes may feel that a fully fit Ulreich would be a safer bet between the posts than a half-fit Neuer short of match practice.
Similarly, Germany can call on a range of impressive goalkeepers, not least Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen.