Neuer out until January after foot operation

BERLIN: Bayern Munich predict their Germany goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer will be out until January after he underwent another operation on Tuesday after again fracturing his left foot.

The 31-year-old had only returned at the end of August after fracturing the same foot in April.

"Survived the first shock and the operation, thanks for the many recovery wishes," he wrote on Twitter with a picture of him in a hospital bed and his left foot in a protective cast.

He suffered the fresh injury in training on Monday as Bayern prepared for Tuesday's Bundesliga match at Schalke.

"The fact that Manuel Neuer has suffered a new injury means we are all very sorry for him," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"The operation went optimally and that is the most important thing now.

"Manuel will be available for us again, back at his old strength, in January."

This is Neuer's third operation on his left foot in six months after minor surgery for a toe injury in March and then again in April after initially fracturing the foot.

Neuer's latest injury blow sparks concerns about Germany's skipper nine months before the World Cup kicks off.

He last played for Germany in a World Cup qualifier in October 2016.

Neuer will miss Germany's key qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Oct 5, where a draw will book the holders' place at Russia 2018.

With Neuer out, Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who deputised when Germany won the Confederations Cup in July, is set to fill in for the world champions.

"I'm so sorry for Manuel, of course, that is a setback for him," said Germany's head coach Joachim Loew.

"Manuel has the personality, the discipline and the will – he will do everything to come back just as strong.

"Medically, he is in the best hands and he knows that he will get as much support from us as he will from Bayern Munich."

Sven Ulreich will stand in for Neuer at Bayern until the winter break at the end of December.

Neuer will miss Bayern's remaining Champions League group stage games, including their key away match at Paris Saint-Germain on Sept 27.

He will also miss their league and cup double-header against RB Leipzig at the end of October and away Bundesliga match at current leaders Borussia Dortmund in early November.

Neuer's Bayern and Germany team-mates quickly rallied around.

"You will come back stronger, my friend," wrote Bayern winger Franck Ribery on Twitter, while Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Robert Lewandowski offered a "get well soon".

Germany star Toni Kroos offered: "You'll be fit again soon".

Bayern confirmed Neuer underwent the operation at a clinic in Tuebingen, south-west Germany, by head surgeon Ulrich Stoeckle, who has inserted a plate in his foot.

Stoeckle has previously treated stars Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and David Alaba. — AFP