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May 30, 2014

Neuer 'moves closer to Germany return'

If Germany wish to hoist their fourth World Cup trophy, they will first need to emerge from a loaded Group G.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could be back in action for the final pre-World Cup friendly against Armenia on June 6, newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung has reported.

- Boateng: I'll play anywhere in the team
- Honigstein: Time running out for Germany

Neuer, who suffered a shoulder injury in the DFB Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago, was back on the training pitch on Thursday as he continued his fight to regain full fitness.

"We still have to take it day by day, but if his development continues without a setback then I am not worried about Manuel Neuer," goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke told the paper.

Koepke added that he did not believe Neuer was in any danger of missing the World Cup, with the Bayern goalkeeper set to put in some extra training shifts next week.

All 26 members of the Germany squad members were on the pitch for a morning training session on Thursday.

Philipp Lahm -- who reporters said had stopped training on Friday amid concerns over ankle problems -- and Neuer, along with Dortmund left-back Marcel Schmelzer, were limited to individual training sessions. Like Bastian Schweinsteiger, they did not take part in an afternoon match against a Germany Under-20 side.

In an interview with kicker, defender Per Mertesacker said he hoped the injury concerns would ease as Germany's first World Cup match, against Portugal on June 16, draws closer.

"Manuel [Neuer], Philipp [Lahm] or Basti [Schweinsteiger], those who have influenced my generation, are important pillars of the team," he said. "We have all our trust in them, but that's only possible if they are fully fit. Every single one is needed in peak form. That's the best condition to be successful."

Meanwhile, Thomas Mueller scored five goals against the Under-20s as Germany's seniors won the match -- played over four 20-minute quarters -- 8-0.

The game, played behind closed doors, saw midfielder Sami Khedira take a knock to his recently-injured right knee, but he played on and later said: "It was normal battle for the ball, which went knee to knee."

Speaking to kicker, he insisted reports of an injury setback on social networking sites were "utter rubbish."

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