Bayern Munich, Clubs, FIFA World Cup, German Bundesliga, Germany, Manuel Neuer, Story

Jupp Heynckes is confident Manuel Neuer will be back and ready to play for Germany at the 2018 World Cup.

Germany assistant coach Thomas Schneider has said he is optimistic that Manuel Neuer will return to full fitness for the World Cup.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer, 31, has fractured his foot on three occasions in the past year and has not played since undergoing surgery in September.

In mid-February he went to Thailand to continue his recovery, and has although he has since returned to Germany he has yet to resume training.

Schneider, speaking at a World Cup workshop in Russia, said Germany would keep the door open for Neuer until the last minute, adding that he did not have to play in their friendlies against Spain and Brazil this month.

“Looking to the World Cup, we are confident,” Schneider said. “If Manu’s fit, he’s the best keeper in the world.

“Those matches [against Spain and Brazil] will be in four weeks. That won’t work.”

Speaking to Bayern’s club TV channel, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he was confident Neuer would be back to full fitness within the next couple of weeks.

“He’s on a very good path, looks mentally strong,” he said. “We are all optimistic that he can play for Bayern again this season, and then nothing would stand in the way of his appearance at the World Cup.”

Should Neuer suffer a setback, Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is likely be favourite to replace the captain in goal for the World Cup holders.

“Marc has played a sensational Confed Cup, and he’s also improved at Barcelona and played unbelievably strong games there,” Schneider said.

“He’s established himself with the national team. He is world class. We don’t have any problems in the keeper position.”

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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