According to Julian Nagelsmann, Manuel Neuer is likely to return from his seven-match injury layoff for Bayern Munich’s trip to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Neuer has been out with a shoulder injury since Bayern’s thrilling 2-2 draw with Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund last month, prompting concern for both club and country.
While the goalkeeper’s absence fueled speculation that he would miss Germany’s World Cup opener against Japan on November 23, Nagelsmann rejected those fears while advising care in his comeback.
That strategy appears to have paid off, as Nagelsmann said on Friday that Neuer would likely succeed Sven Ulreich in the German capital.
Julian Nagelsmann reaction to Neuer’s return
“If the final training session goes well, Manu will come along and also play,” he said at a pre-match news conference. “I assume it will, but we’ll see how the shoulder reacts. This week went well.
“We didn’t consciously wait longer, we just waited until he was pain-free. When you start again after an injury, there is always some risk, but I don’t calculate that, it’s the doctors.
“If they give the clearance, [the risk] is obviously so small so that he can play, but anything can happen when you have a bruised shoulder. Football is a contact sport, so you can never rule everything out.”
While Neuer’s comeback is a significant boost for Bayern, who sit one point behind Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin, they will be missing Thomas Muller and Matthijs de Ligt at the Olympiastadion.
“Thomas and Matthijs are still out. Matthijs’ knee reacted again, so we could not increase [his workload],” Nagelsmann added.
“It was originally the idea [for De Ligt to return], but unfortunately it doesn’t work. That’s why he won’t be flying to Berlin, the same with Thomas. The plan is for them to come back during the week.”
Bayern completed their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 2-0 victory over Inter, becoming the first team to do it in successive seasons.
Bayern will be drawn against one of Liverpool, Club Brugge, Milan, or Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 draw on Monday, and Nagelsmann feels none of those teams will want to face them.
Asked about the prospect of meeting Liverpool, he said: “There are easier draws, but you can also turn the tables. There aren’t too many teams who want to play against us.
“It’s all very hypothetical, the next Champions League game is in a few months. The current form of Liverpool, or us, or Milan, or PSG or Brugge is not decisive.
“Until then, a lot will happen. I also read all of this, I know who our potential opponents are and I have an opinion on all of them. But I’m not making the choice, so we’ll wait and see.”