Bernd Leno hopes Manuel Neuer recovers in time to lead Germany at the World Cup, even if it means he misses out a place in the squad.
Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Leno has avoided booking a holiday in the hope he is included in Joachim Low’s plans for Russia.
With Neuer recovering from a foot injury that has kept him out for most of the season, Leno is one of three keepers in the Germany squad for international friendlies against Spain and Brazil.
Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen is likely to fill in if Neuer is ruled out, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp another option, but Leno is ready to answer Low’s call if he is required at the World Cup.
“A World Cup is probably the biggest one you can attend,” Leno told Omnisport. “But by now I think I am a bit more relaxed than, for example, two years ago at the European Championship.
“At that time, I had many thoughts: what if I was there or just would not be there. I am quite relaxed now and concentrate only on my performance.
“I think I can’t blame myself. I’ve tried everything and will continue to try everything to bring the best performance to make it as difficult as possible for the national coach. Everything else will be seen then.
“I have not booked a holiday yet and am definitely ready for the World Cup. My gut feeling tells me that Manuel Neuer will come back. As you can hear, he makes relatively good progress and also takes the time so that his foot heals completely again.
“I would also hope he can get fit again and return to his top form. For performance reasons not to be at the World Cup, you can say it was just not enough, but with an injury you can’t really do much about it.
“I know Manuel, he came back after his injury against Real Madrid and has shown outstanding games. I do not think he will need much time and hope he is fit again until the World Cup.”
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) March 22, 2018
Germany face South Korea, Mexico and Sweden in the group stage in Russia as Low’s men aim to defend the World Cup title they won four years ago in Brazil.
And Leno believes Germany should be considered among the favourites again, having triumphed at the Confederations Cup last year.
“I think there are enough competitors,” Leno added. “Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France with their new generation as well which is very impressive. So there are some nations who will fight against us but I think we’re also part of this group.
“We are world champions and have been one of the best teams at the Euros, played good football and got eliminated a bit unluckily. And also the Confederations Cup showed how good we are.
“The depth of our squad is really good and also the first XI are really good ones. So I think our squad is balanced which is why the other teams have a lot of respect. We don’t have to fear anybody.”
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