Manuel Neuer has given Bayern Munich and Germany a massive injury boost after he stepped up his recovery from a season-long foot injury.
The world-class goalkeeper took part in training with his club's senior side for the first time since September, reports the Daily Mail, as he eyes a place in Joachim Low's squad for the World Cup in Russia.
Bayern's official site also released a statement on Tuesday morning to reveal that Neuer had taken to the training pitches - and his return was all the more sweeter for Neuer as he celebrated his 32nd birthday on the same day.
The statement read: "Manuel Neuer has taken another important step on the road to his long-awaited comeback. The FC Bayern captain took to the pitch at Sabener Strasse for the first time on Tuesday morning for some running exercises.
"The goalkeeper completed two 10-minute sessions under the guidance of fitness and rehabilitation coach Thomas Wilhelmi.
"Neuer also had another reason to be happy because the Bayern and Germany No.1 also celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday. From everyone at Bayern: Happy birthday, skipper!"
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Neuer fractured a metatarsal in his left foot on duty with Bayern last April in their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and had been set to return to the first-team fold in Germany's capital six months ago.
However, two setbacks with that injury resulted in him sitting out much of the rest of the current campaign and has cast doubts on his involvement at this summer's international tournament.
Following his return, Germany head coach Joachim Low stated that Neuer would be given every chance to be part of his 23-man party to head out east in three months' time if he managed to get on the field for Bayern before the end of this term.
Low said: "If a player plays no role in the preparation, it is difficult to nominate him, (but) the doctor has assured me that the condition of his scar and the growing together of the bones are absolutely fine and look very good.
"However, at the current stage he is not allowed to [train] at maximum, he is currently training at 90 per cent and wants to increase to 100 per cent this week so that he is fully resilient. Then he can still get the necessary security in the training sessions. I assume and am very optimistic that Manuel will be present at the World Cup."