Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be Germany’s No. 1 at the 2018 World Cup if he makes the final squad, says national team manager Oliver Bierhoff.
The 32-year-old Bayern Munich man has not played a competitive match since undergoing surgery for a broken bone in his foot in September.
Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes said earlier this month Neuer would be “a big factor” for Germany at this summer’s tournament and Bierhoff told reporters on Thursday he is set for a starring role should he be included when Joachim Low releases his final list of 23 on Monday.
“Manuel will go to the World Cup as our No. 1,” said Bierhoff. “If he makes the squad then Marc-Andre [ter Stegen] will be No. 2.
“Manuel is already full on track. He does not need to get back on it. All the players have left a big impression here and it is a very difficult decision.
“On the evening before the team announcement, there will be the final thoughts among the coaching staff. By noon the next day, the players will be informed.”
Germany won the 2014 edition in Brazil aided by remarkable performances from Neuer who often acted as a “sweeper-keeper” to snuff out danger behind the back line. He helped his country to a semifinal berth in the 2010 World Cup South Africa.
The Germans also expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to drop in on their camp this week.
“My information is that on Sunday she will drop by. Before our training camp, we visited her and she had hinted that she wanted to say hello without too much fanfare,” Bierhoff added.
“It’s kind of a tradition. It is nice to hear from her and how she sees the team’s situation going into the tournament.”
The Germans, who also face Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen on June 8 in their final warm-up match, are in World Cup Group F with Sweden, South Korea and Mexico. The tournament begins on June 14.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.