Sandro Wagner 'first option' to replace injured Lewy - Heynckes
MUNICH -- Despite Robert Lewandowski's absence through injury, Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has insisted new signing Sandro Wagner is not a guaranteed starter when the league leaders return to Bundesliga action at Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.
Heynckes confirmed at a news conference that Lewandowski and defender Mats Hummels will miss the trip to Leverkusen after the duo were unable to take a full part in training this week.
"It would be negligent to risk them. Neither of them are in the squad,'' said Heynckes, before adding that German international Wagner is the "first option'' to replace Lewandowski in attack but far from certain to start.
Munich-born Wagner joined Bayern at the age of nine, making his Bundesliga debut in 2007 but failed to make the breakthrough, making only four appearances before moving to Duisburg the following year.
Wagner's career has come full circle after spells at Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern, Hertha Berlin, Darmstadt and most recently Hoffenheim, winning his first cap for Germany last year and has scored five goals in seven appearances for his country.
"He's very ambitious and very disciplined,'' Heynckes said. "He's integrated very well into the squad [but] the process of integration takes longer than just two weeks. It's not simply a case of a new player turning up and then playing. He has to get to know the sort of runs to make."
He added: "Of course he and Lewy are different types of players but not a lot will change. He can also play well with his back to goal. He's a German international with ambitions of going to the World Cup in Russia."
In further team news, Heynckes said: "Joshua Kimmich makes the squad but he has had a cold and back problems so I will have to weigh up whether he starts as well."
Heynckes,72, coached Leverkusen between 2009 and 2011 and was under no illusions about the difficult task presented by his former side, who are buoyed by a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions which has seen them rise to fourth in the table.
"They're a young, highly talented, hungry, quick team who play with a lot of imagination," he said.
Bayern have racked up a 11-point advantage atop the Bundesliga as they resume after the winter break, despite trailing Borussia Dortmund by five points when Heynckes assumed the interim coaching role for a fourth time in charge in October.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.