Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal believes France midfielder Franck Ribery will make a quicker comeback than expected from a knee problem.
Ribery has tendinitis in his left knee and had been expected to be sidelined for at least another month after consulting a French doctor earlier this week.
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But Van Gaal said Friday Ribery will not undergo surgery after the latest scan shown a “marked improvement” in his knee.
The decision to avoid surgery was reached in agreement with Ribery, Van Gaal said.
“I hope the healing will go quicker than many think,” said Van Gaal, who didn’t say when he expected Ribery to return.
France will face Ireland in a two-legged playoff on Nov. 14 and four days later for a spot in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
Van Gaal also answered accusations in the German media that he is arrogant, saying the word didn’t have such a negative connotation in Dutch as it did in German, and that an analogy to God had been taken out of context.
“If I were God, I’d be winning everything. I am not God. I am a coach who works hard and takes care of his players,” Van Gaal told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga match against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Van Gaal’s frequent rotation of players and systems has brought criticism in the media, especially after the team’s 2-1 loss at Bordeaux in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The mass-circulation newspaper Bild called him “worse than Klinsmann,” referring to Van Gaal’s predecessor, Juergen Klinsmann, who was fired five games before the end of last season.
Bayern is six points off the lead in the Bundesliga.