Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has reiterated his belief that Manuel Neuer will be back playing for the club prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia this summer.
While Heynckes has refused to set a timeframe for Neuer’s first-team return, the veteran tactician was bullish about the goalkeeper’s chances of featuring for the champions before the end of the season and heading to the World Cup with requisite match practice.
Neuer has been out of action since mid-September with a broken foot and Heynckes has sent him to Thailand to work on his recovery away from Munich.
“I’m utterly convinced that he’ll play for us and then go to the World Cup,” said Heynckes when asked about Neuer last week. “The doctors will decide … I’m not putting him under pressure and so we’re not placing a timeframe on it. Manuel’s in a good place mentally, though.
“He’s making really good progress and is working well on his fitness. I suggested that he get a change of scenery, just to get away from Säbener Straße [Bayern’s training base] for a bit. He can’t take any risks and he won’t.”
In the absence of Neuer, Sven Ulreich has taken on the mantle of Bayern’s first-choice goalkeeper and has impressed all concerned – including Heynckes.
“He wasn’t playing well when I arrived, but I told him: ‘You’ll be playing this week, next week and in three months,’ Heynckes said.
“It was vital to say: ‘You are my man,’ and the team soon noticed that he is a really good goalkeeper as well. I have complete faith in Sven Ulreich.”