Berlin, May 9: Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s 2018 World Cup participation is becoming more and more unlikely as the Bayern Munich captain will not return for the last games of the club football season.
According to Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes, who celebrated his 73rd birthday Wednesday, Neuer will not be ready for league action against VfB Stuttgart this Saturday nor will he take part in the Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt on May 19, reports Xinhua news agency.
“He won’t play in either of our last Bundesliga games nor in the Cup final,” Heynckes told the Nuremberg-based football magazine Kicker. Sven Ulreich will be between the posts in both matches.
Neuer has been sidelined since his operation on September 19 last year. It was the third time that the injury to his left foot has occurred. Recently, the Bayern coach indicated that mistakes had been made in his treatment and therapy.
Neuer has always made it clear that playing in a major tournament like the 2018 World Cup in Russia without match practice is impossible. “I can’t tell you at the moment whether I can make it back in time for the World Cup,” Neuer commented.
Now, German national team coach Joachim Loew will have to decide if it is enough for Neuer to get match practice in the last pre-tournament friendlies against Austria (June 2) and Saudi Arabia (June 8).
Until now, Loew has confirmed that Neuer will be part of the preliminary squad at the pre-World Cup training camp in northern Italy from May 23 to June 9.
Loew is set to announce his squad on May 15 in Dortmund and wants to wait as long as possible for Neuer. The German coach is now expected to announce four goalkeepers for the training camp. While Neuer has been involved in team training sessions in Munich, plans of him appearing in the final two league matches against Cologne and Stuttgart had to be abandoned.
The 2014 World Cup winner recently indicated that he is making steady progress but is still not ready to make a return. “I feel good with the work I’m doing but I still have to be careful,” Neuer commented. So far, he has not been able to practice in competitive situations.
Last week, Neuer had to interrupt his rehab work due to a slight problem with his right foot. (IANS)