presented by
Key men sidelined

Robben and Ribery close in on comebacks

Bayern will be without a number of big-name players in Sunday’s Bundesliga fixture away to Hannover 96. Alongside long-term absentees Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, and echoing the line-up difficulties ahead of the midweek Champions League win over Maccabi Haifa, Miroslav Klose, Hamit Altintop and Luca Toni remain unavailable for selection.

Klose is nursing an injured tendon in his left elbow and is also below peak fitness after missing a number of training sessions in the last fortnight. “He’s not feeling great. He won’t play, nor will he be on the bench,” Van Gaal announced on Friday. Altintop has yet to shake off a bruised calf, and Toni does not currently figure in Van Gaal’s plans for disciplinary reasons. “I have problems with players who don’t fulfil the normal requirements of a Bayern Munich player, and that’s Toni,” the coach said.

Wingers on track

In Hanover, Van Gaal is hoping to field the team which started against Haifa on Wednesday. The coach believes both Ribéry and Robben could make long yearned-for comebacks before the mid-season break. “I hope Robben might be among the subs against Gladbach, and Ribéry after that,” he reported. That could mean the Frenchman, whose season has effectively failed to get off the starting blocks due to a persistent patellar tendon problem, might feature in the do-or-die Champions League meeting with Juventus on 8 December, at least as a potent alternative on the bench.

On Friday, both Ribéry and Robben pursued individual training programmes. Van Gaal awarded the day off to the players who started against Haifa. Ivica Olic and Danijel Pranjic nevertheless reported for regeneration exercises, while the squad players trained as normal.