PORTO SEGURO, Brazil (AP) — Manuel Neuer became Germany goalkeeper when his rival for the job suffered a shoulder injury. Four years later, it's Neuer's own shoulder that has been a matter of concern before Germany's World Cup opener against Portugal.
Germany's goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke played down fears that Neuer may not be ready for Monday's match in Group H and announced that the goalkeeper would train with the team starting Wednesday. Neuer took part in the session that was open to the media for 15 minutes.
Neuer injured his right shoulder in the German Cup final on May 17 and has not trained with the team since then. He has been preparing on his own and Koepke said the team had preferred not to take any risks. He missed both warm-up matches against Cameroon and Armenia.
"He's regained confidence in his shoulder, he can take the full load," Koepke said Wednesday. "He's really getting along. We did not want to take any unnecessary risks, we thought it was better for him to start training with the team a day later than to risk (aggravating the injury)."
"I've watched him train and I know he is 100-percent fit and ready to play. We still have a few days to prepare for the match," Koepke said.
Neuer's talent was recognized early but he was seen as backup for Rene Adler at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Adler injured his shoulder before the tournament and Neuer became the No. 1, and one of Germany's key players as Joachim Loew's team reached the semifinals.
Since earning his place as Germany's starting goalkeeper, Neuer has not relinquished it. Still struggling with injuries and form, Adler was overlooked by Loew, who picked Borussia Dortmund's Roman Weidenfeller to be Neuer's backup in Brazil.
Weidenfeller is 33, but only made his debut last year and has not played in a major tournament for Germany.
"He is highly motivated and ready but he knows the situation and our thinking," Koepke said of Weidenfeller. "Manuel has played a few tournaments for us and he's been good for us in the past."
In addition to the 2010 World Cup, Neuer also played at the 2012 European Championship, when Germany reached the semifinals.
At 28, Neuer is still relatively young for a goalkeeper. Blessed with cat-like reflexes, Neuer is excellent on the line and is a good penalty killer. He is prone, however, to rare but spectacular blunders, especially when he ventures far from his goal.
Neuer played for Schalke before moving to Bayern Munich in 2011.
Bavarian fans were slow to accept a player from one of the club's major Bundesliga rivals, but Neuer won them over with his saves. Neuer saved one penalty but Bayern still lost the 2012 Champions League final at home to Chelsea.
Next year, Bayern won the domestic double and then added the club's first treble with the Champions League triumph over Dortmund. This year, Bayern lost in the semifinals to Real Madrid, after completing the domestic double again.