By the time you’ve rolled your eyes over the poor pun I played on Manuel Neuer’s name, Germany’s number one will have already rejoined his teammates as a full-participant in Wednesday’s training at Campo Bahia, the first time he’ll have done so since arriving to national-team service with a shoulder injury picked up in the DFB Cup-final victory over Borussia Dortmund.
Goalkeeper coach Andreas Köpke announced Neuer’s status to the media saying he’s ready to bear a full load, finally putting to rest any lingering concern the most-capped (by far) keeper in the squad might not be ready to play come Monday when Germany launches its bid for a world championship against Portugal.
Neither Roman Weidenfeller nor Ron-Robert Zieler have ever appeared for Germany in a competitive international match. Weidenfeller has stood in goal for Löw just three times, all in friendlies, with his debut having come against England last November. Zieler’s debut came two years earlier in a November 2011 friendly against Ukraine, but he’s spent just 76 minutes on the pitch for his country since, getting some part-time work against Argentina and Poland.
Köpke asserted that Neuer’s return to training can and should be interpreted as the player being 100-percent fit, as neither head coach Joachim Löw nor assistant Hansi Flick wished to take any risk with Neuer’s health by playing him before the shoulder was ready. To that end, were Neuer not completely fit, it would have been Weidenfeller Monday.
But, barring some new injury the next four-plus days, the “Who will start in goal against Portugal?” question has its answer.