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Jun 5, 2014

Germany wait on Manuel Neuer fitness

Germany's number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been on a meteoric rise since his move from Schalke to Bayern Munich in 2011.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has revealed that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is still working on his recovery from a shoulder injury and will not take part in the final pre-World Cup friendly against Armenia on Friday.

- Uersfeld: Dortmund's Erik Durm left in the spotlight
- Honigstein: Form, not reputation, should guide Germany

Fellow Bayern Munich players Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger could both return, but Loew told a news conference on Thursday that neither will play for 90 minutes.

The trio had worked on their fitness during the two days of holiday between the Cameroon friendly on Sunday and the Armenia match on Friday, and while captain Lahm and Schweinsteiger were both were able to train pain-free with the ball, Neuer was still not able to return to goalkeeping training.

"Lahm and Schweinsteiger will both get playing time against Armenia," Loew said, but added that "maybe it does not make sense [for] the full 90 minutes."

The Bayern keeper suffered a shoulder injury in the DFB-Pokal cup final nearly three weeks ago, and his fitness situation remains unchanged. "Manuel Neuer will not play against Armenia. We don't want to take any risks," Loew said.

The national coach hopes that the 28-year-old will resume full training when Nationalmannschaft arrive in Brazil on June 8.

"According to the doctors, he will be able to play again as soon as we are in Brazil," Loew continued. "Tomorrow might be a bit too early to go back into competition. He's done a lot of exercises with his shoulder and arm.

"He has said that it will take him only three, four days to get back into his rhythm. Manuel Neuer will be fit to play the World Cup. But against Armenia, Roman Weidenfeller will be in goal again."

Germany's preparation for the tournament has not only been overshadowed by the race against time for the three key players: Mesut Ozil's worrying dip in form has been discussed at length, and some commentators have urged Loew to bench the Arsenal star and play Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus in central midfield.

However, Loew has faith that Ozil will return to form before the tournaments starts, saying: "He might have played one match or another in which he was not able to meet his high standards, but I am convinced that we can turn that around, so that Ozil will deploy his outstanding skills at the World Cup."

Besides Ozil's form, the injuries and distractions off the pitch, the German public has also questioned the team's attacking formation, although Loew dismissed these arguments.

"I won't pack this discussion in my bag, that would mean [being] overweight at the airport," he said.

"With Marco Reus, Lukas Podolski, Andre Schuerrle and Miroslav Klose we have players who have been trained to score goals from the very beginning.

"Maybe the job description for an attacker has changed over the years: he has to be technically good and must find the spaces. We have enough lads who can play in attack."

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