Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has said he is hopeful of playing a part in the team's end to the domestic season despite his recent injury.
Neuer had to be withdrawn from the 4-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga on Sunday after he suffered a calf strain when rushing out of his box to clear the ball.
Speaking on Wednesday at a captain's press conference, Neuer said he is confident he can still contribute in 2018-19 and has targeted the showdown with RB Leipzig on May 11 for a possible return:
Bayern are involved in a gripping battle for the German title, as they lead Borussia Dortmund by a point heading into the final five games of the season.
The Munich giants are out of the UEFA Champions League following their last-16 elimination at the hands of Liverpool. However, they remain in the hunt for the DFP-Pokal, with a semi-final clash with Werder Bremen to come.
While he was rated as the best goalkeeper in the world in his prime, Neuer's standards have regressed in recent seasons. In the Champions League loss to Liverpool, his mistake early in the game allowed Sadio Mane to net the opening goal in a 3-1 win for the visitors.
The goalkeeper has often made costly mistakes in the knockout stages of the European Cup:
Neuer said it's been a tough season to assess, and he also had words of praise for his deputy Sven Ulreich, who spent much of the previous season starting in goal for Bayern after Neuer suffered a long-term injury:
FC Bayern English @FCBayernEN
@Manuel_Neuer 🗣️ #Neuer concludes: "It's been a funny season and a lot has happened already. We've got to stay fully focussed - we're top of the table and have got to continue playing like we have done in our last few games." #FCBayern #MiaSanMia #packmas 👊 https://t.co/rxXfwwlb9l
Now 33, Neuer is beginning to reach the twilight years of his career, and there will surely be some concern among the Bayern hierarchy regarding the number of problems he's endured lately. If he is to get back to his best levels again, it's important he stays fit.
Despite some struggles, Bayern manager Niko Kovac would prefer to have his captain fit for a crunch spell in the campaign. Bringing Neuer back in further down the line when the campaign is at its most intense is far from ideal.