Michael Ballack says that Germany will be taking a risk selecting Manuel Neuer for the World Cup with the goalkeeper having not played due to injury for nine months.
Neuer’s last match was back in September but his recovery from surgery for a broken foot, originally sustained in a Champions League clash with Real Madrid in April 2017, was repeatedly delayed.
He eventually returned to Bayern training in the closing weeks of the season, without playing, leading to Germany coach Joachim Low naming Neuer among four goalkeepers in his initial squad for the World Cup.
Low’s final 23-man squad for the finals in Russia will be announced on June 4 and there has been much debate in Germany whether Neuer should be selected.
“I think it’s a really delicate situation. A special situation,” Ballack told Goal.
“Neuer is the world’s best goalkeeper, and he has this special status because of that.
“If we were talking about anyone else, they would not be in the squad. But the coach and the training staff have this belief in him. They have a good relationship.”
Low stated last week that he is confident that Neuer will prove his fitness ahead of the June 4 deadline, adding that if the Bayern man goes to Russia he will be the country’s No.1 ahead of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
“Neuer says he is pain free, he is training. For a goalkeeper, the situation [of not playing for so long] is a bit different to what it would be if he was an outfield player,” added Ballack, who played in two World Cups for Germany.
“It’s still a special situation, though, as he hasn’t played any games yet ahead of the World Cup. Of course, it is a risk to take him but we have people who are taking the responsibility for that choice.
“The coach, of course, has to believe in him and the team also as the players always have to believe in their goalkeeper.
“I think the trust is there and when they see him in training they will know. But, of course, there is always a little bit of risk there when you haven’t played any games.”
Germany begin their World Cup defence on June 17 against Mexico before taking on Sweden and then South Korea in Group F.