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Football | Germany

Gomez closing in on comeback



Germany striker Mario Gomez has returned from a long injury and with a little luck could make it into Bayern Munich's squad for the Bundesliga leaders' Saturday game at Bavarian rivals Nuremberg.

Gomez had to undergo ankle surgery in the pre-season and has not featured yet in 2012-13 for Munich.

In his absence, Munich have scored a league-leading 32 goals and enjoy a seven-point lead over Schalke. Mario Mandzukic has found the net eight times and Claudio Pizarro made his presence felt as well with a Champions League hat-trick against Lille.

Gomez, 27, is used to being questioned as an old-fashioned striker, lurking for his chance in the penalty area rather than falling back to be more involved in the attack.

However, he was Bundesliga top scorer two seasons ago with 28 goals and got another 26 in the past campaign. He scored vital goals at Euro 2012 for Germany after previous difficult years for his country.

A friendly set up for him against a local lower league side marked Gomez' comeback game on Tuesday. He scored four gaols, and is now getting ready to challenge Mandzukic for the place in the starting line-up.

"I have always managed to perform well and score important goals. I have been competing against very good strikers for the past eight years and I have always prevailed. I will prevail as well this time," Gomez said.

Munich sports director Matthias Sammer is happy that Gomez' return adds further depth to the squad, saying that "we need Mario with his great quality, maybe he will even become important for us in the first half of the season."

That period runs until the winter break in mid-December but it will be up to coach Jupp Heynckes to decide when he will return to Bundesliga action.

"Mario's showing was great," said Heynckes in reference to Tuesday's comeback game, but the coach left it open when Gomez will see Bundesliga action again.

Gomez remains patient, saying that a premature comeback makes no sense.

"I am not at 100 per cent yet," he said. "Once I feel ready and the coach sees it he will field me."

Holger Badstuber could also return from injury, and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos have recovered from illness, as Munich seek their 11th win from 12 season games at Nuremberg, who hover just above the danger zone in 15th place.

Schalke face a difficult trip to fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday night while third-placed Eintracht Frankfurt aim to rebound from last week's defeat in Munich in a home game against bottom club Augsburg.

Also on Saturday, champions Borussia Dortmund host lowly Fuerth, Moenchengladbach play Stuttgart, Hanover take on Freiburg and Hamburg entertain Mainz.

Sunday will be Klaus Allofs day as Bremen play their first match without their sports director for 13 years against Fortuna Dusseldorf, and Allofs' new club Wolfsburg visit Hoffenheim.

"With this step to Wolfsburg, 13 important years come to an end for me. There were offers from other clubs here and there during that time, but they never played a role for me. But now, the time has come in which I would like to look for a new challenge," Allofs said when the move was announced on Wednesday.

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