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After nearly three months out with a muscle injury, Bayern Munich‘s midfield metronome Thiago Alcantara is set to make his comeback away to Wolfsburg on Matchday 23.

It has been a largely frustrating campaign for the Spain midfielder, who has been restricted to just 15 appearances in all competitions, including nine in the Bundesliga. As Bayern head into the business end of the season, though, coach Jupp Heynckes is delighted to see him back in action.

“It’s very important to have creative players like Thiago in the team,” he said. “It adds another element to our game. I’m thinking back to the Dortmund game, where we won 3-1 and he was outstanding.”

Heynckes is unlikely to risk Thiago in next week’s UEFA Champions League clash against Besiktas at the Allianz Arena, with James Rodriguez and Arturo Vidal expected to start for the Bundesliga champions in central midfield. But a return against Wolfsburg in the league – where the Bavarians boast an 18-point lead at the top – would give him some useful game time as he works his way back to full match fitness.

Thiago could well be in the frame by the time Bayern travel to the Turkish champions for the last 16 return leg on 14 March, and there is also the small matter of a DFB Cup semi-final at Bayer Leverkusen in mid-April. The 26-year-old was still playing for Barcelona when his current club completed a historic treble under Heynckes in 2012/13, but he would love to help lightning strike twice this season.

With only three goals in all competitions in 2017/18 – and no assists – the Spaniard will also be keenly aware of the need to perform in the coming weeks – especially with Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka due to join the record champions from Schalke in the summer, and Vidal adamant that he is going nowhere. Step one, though, is staying fit and healthy – especially with the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia fast approaching.

“It would terrible for the player and the club if he got injured again,” Heynckes admitted. “He has big dreams – first with Bayern, and then of course with the Spanish national team.”

Wolfsburg, then, is likely to be only the beginning of what could be a memorable few months for Thiago. Because make no mistake, if the Spanish string-puller is at the top of his game, it could be a very successful 2018 for club and country alike.

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