Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes is confident Manuel Neuer will feature for Germany at the World Cup but has refused to place a timescale on his return.
Neuer is undertaking the latest stage of his injury rehabilitation in Thailand after Heynckes advised a change of scenery in his gruelling fitness slog.
The Germany and Bayern captain has broken his foot three times in the past 12 months and the last of his three Bundesliga appearances this season preceded surgery in September.
“We are not pressuring him. There is no timeframe, there is no deadline.” Heynckes told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Wolfsburg.
“Personally, I am convinced that he will play for us and will play in the World Cup but in the end that is something he has to decide, together with the medical team, when he returns
“He can’t afford to take any risk and I don’t think he will.”
#Heynckes on @Manuel_Neuer going to Thailand: “Manu is making great progress and is working hard on his fitness. I recommended he have a change in scenery just to get away from Säbener Street.” #WOBFCB pic.twitter.com/NoXhEkC8gk
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) February 16, 2018
Neuer was Heynckes’ goalkeeper during his previous spell in charge, when Bayern stormed to a historic treble in 2012-13, and the veteran coach is full of admiration for the 31-year-old’s commitment at a difficult time.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve been in touch with Manuel, of course,” he said. “It’s not only that we celebrated great success together – I appreciated him not only as the world’s best goalkeeper but as a human being.
“I gave him a couple of valuable tips that I’m pretty sure he followed and I told him to choose a change of scenery. That’s what he’s doing right now.
“The way I know Manuel, he’s continuing to work on his fitness. I’ve seen him many times here with the physical therapists and it’s really extraordinary the job he’s doing.
“Manuel is in good psychological shape, he’s making good progress and I’ve always said I will not pressure him, there is no deadline. “
One factor making Neuer’s absence easier to bare for the runaway Bundesliga leaders is the solid form of deputy Sven Ulreich.
The 29-year-old turned in some shaky displays earlier in the season and Heynckes felt it was prudent to take him aside and offer some assurances.,
“This is decision that I made a while back and the recommendation that I made to [Neuer] for a change of scenery was when Sven Ulriech did not do such a fantastic job,” he explained.
“I told Sven Ulreich that he would be playing this week, next week and in three months; Manuel, I told that there is no pressure to come back in February or March.
“I totally trust Sven Ulreich and Manuel Neuer needs to keep working on his fitness but in peace and quiet.
“I told Sven Ulreich that I trust him. I know how important it is for a goalkeeper who was never in the spotlight or received recognition.
“It’s super important to tell him, ‘You’re my guy now, you’re my man’.
“The team have noticed he’s a really good goalkeeper and that it works with him.”
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