Bayern Munich attacker Mario Gotze could make his return from an ankle injury when the Bundesliga champions host Wolfsburg on Saturday.
The 21-year-old has missed almost a month of action for the Bavarians after sustaining the knock against Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup, but he returned to full training this week.
Gotze did not feature in Wednesday’s crushing 4-1 DFB-Pokal win over Hannover, but may return to the substitutes’ bench at least for the visit of Dieter Hecking’s side.
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola will be boosted by Gotze’s potential comeback with midfield duo Thiago Alcantara (knee) and Javi Martinez (groin) still a long way off returning.
Holger Badstuber is Bayern’s only other concern with a long-term knee injury.
Captain Philipp Lahm, usually a full-back, has been forced to feature as an emergency midfielder on several occasions so far this season, but the 29-year-old is satisfied with his side’s progress after Bayern moved level on points with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table.
“I think we can be very pleased with our recent performances,” Lahm said after Wednesday’s Pokal win.
“We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Bayern will be confident of further success against Wolfsburg, having won nine of the last 10 meetings between the sides and drawing the other, but Wolfsburg’s last win over the champions was an emphatic 5-1 thrashing in April 2009, going a long way to securing a first Bundesliga title for the Lower Saxony outfit that season.
That triumph was just one of three Wolfsburg have enjoyed over Bayern in their history, but Hecking is not giving up on springing a surprise at the Allianz Arena.
“We’ll do everything to keep the game open as long as possible,” he said. “That it will be very difficult is clear.
“But you can always do it in any game, we have this hope.”
Luiz Gustavo returned from suspension for Wolfsburg in their midweek DFB-Pokal win over second-tier Aalen and is likely to play against the club he left ahead of the new season.
The Brazilian midfielder will be charged with tracking Bayern’s stellar attacking talents, but he will be keen to avoid another red card, having been dismissed in two of his three Bundesliga appearances for his new employers this term.
Gustavo’s inclusion will go some way to off-setting the absence of Vieirinha, after the Portugal winger was ruled out for a lengthy period with a knee ligament injury, joining striker Bas Dost (ankle) on the sidelines.
Wolfsburg, who finished 11th in the Bundesliga last season, have won three and lost three of their six league fixtures so far this term.