Kovac not willing to risk Neuer ahead of Liverpool tie

FC Bayern Muenchen v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Group E
MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 02: Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Muenchen plays the ball during the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Bayern Muenchen and Ajax at Allianz Arena on October 2, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Niko Kovac dropped a hint that Manuel Neuer will not feature for Bayern Munich before their Champions League tie against Liverpool.

The German skipper has missed Bayern’s last two matches with a hand injury and remains sidelined for the clash against his former employers Schalke on Saturday.

The Bavarians have shipped in five goals in their last two ties following his absence, the 3-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen and a further two goals in an extra-time win at Hertha Berlin.

But Kovac is not willing to risk the shot-stopper with Bayern’s trip to Anfield on February 19 around the corner.

“The last decision is always with the player,” Kovac told reporters. “We talked together [before the Hertha game] and he said: not yet. And probably not for tomorrow’s game.

“We’ll wait and see how it develops and we will not use him until Manuel says he is okay.

“I cannot say exactly how it [the injury] happened, we had a very intensive goalkeeper training.

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“Our doctors, our staff and [club doctor] Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt take care of him.”

Bayern could also be without Arjen Robben after the veteran winger reportedly broke down in training this week.

“Arjen wants to be 100 percent pain-free to get to his top performance, which he is not at the moment,” Kovac added via FourFourTwo.

“We are working on it, making a prognosis does not make sense. Arjen is like a seismograph, he feels something right away, I’m so sorry.”

New Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz equally questioned the rare start of James Rodriguez with his future at the club uncertain.

“I’ve already said that James Rodriguez is an extraordinary player,” Kovac said.

“We needed to ease him in somewhat after his injury, but when he is fit he plays like he did against Hertha: brilliantly! And that’s the best argument for selecting him.”