Neuer 'on schedule' but Heynckes won't rush Bayern star
Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes is not prepared to play the recovering Manuel Neuer before he is ready.
Jupp Heynckes says Manuel Neuer's recovery from injury is on track but the coach insists he will not rush the Bayern Munich star back into action.
Neuer suffered a repeat hairline fracture of a metatarsal in his left foot in training in September and was forced to undergo surgery.
The 31-year-old said in October he could be out for as much as six months but it has been suggested he could return shortly after the winter break.
However, Heynckes says the goalkeeper will only play again when he is 100 per cent fit.
"I think he is on schedule," the Bayern boss told a news conference on Tuesday. "But I've always protected my players. With me, no player starts again until he has recovered completely. That's why there's no pressure from my side at all."
Sven Ulreich has deputised for Neuer and has impressed in recent weeks in particular, keeping four clean sheets in his last five Bundesliga appearances, including in Saturday's 3-0 win over Augsburg.
The 29-year-old has been surprised by some of that praise, given it has swiftly followed criticism of some early-season performances, but he is happy with the renewed defensive strength Heynckes has brought about since replacing Carlo Ancelotti in October.
"Everything goes so quickly in football. A few weeks ago, Lothar Matthaus said I have a problem with my eyes and now he praises me," said Ulreich.
"I don't give much thought to it. I just concentrate on the next matches.
"The coach has put a lot of focus on the defence. The aim is always to keep a clean sheet. We are defending compact again and working together as a team at the back."
Bayern take on Anderlecht on Wednesday needing a win to ensure they can still beat Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in Group B ahead of their showdown at the Allianz Arena on matchday six.
Heynckes is ready to rotate his side against the Belgians but is keen not to be complacent heading into the game.
"You can never make the mistake of underestimating an opponent, especially in the Champions League," he said. "I saw Anderlecht's match against Club Brugge, which impressed me.
"They are combative and they run well and have strengthened their defence. It won't be a walk in the park.
"Jerome Boateng is back and will start. [Sebastian] Rudy and [Corentin] Tolisso have hardly played from the start; there's a very realistic chance they will start. That's not a risk for me.
"[Kingsley] Coman only started gym work recently. He's trying today but I can't say he'll be fit to play."