BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayern Munich will be without defender David Alaba when they travel to Hoffenheim on Saturday but Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Suele are ready for a first return to their former club as the champions look to take over the top spot in the Bundesliga.
Alaba suffered an ankle injury while on international duty with Austria this week and will be out for some time, Bayern said.
The length of the defender’s absence is not yet clear but there was good news for Carlo Ancelotti’s team with Rudy, who was also injured in Germany’s 6-0 victory over Norway on Monday, being declared fit for Saturday.
Midfielder Rudy trained alone on Wednesday but is expected to return to team practice later on Thursday.
Both Rudy and central defender Suele, another Germany international, moved to Bayern after a sensational season at Hoffenheim that saw them finish fourth in the Bundesliga.
Bayern are on six points from two victories from two matches with a slightly worse goal difference than leaders Borussia Dortmund but that means little so early in the season.
For Suele and Rudy, however, the battle for a starting spot has long started and with seven games scheduled for the next 23 days, including in the Champions League, they know they need to be ready at any time.
“I have to stay consistent for years and I have to continue the same way,” Rudy said this week. “My aim is to establish myself at Bayern.”
It may be somewhat easier for Rudy, with Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm retired, than for Suele, who faces fierce competition from established internationals such as Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng.
The latter two have now recovered from injuries and want their starting spots back, while Hummels is currently considered the only automatic starter of the four.
Hoffenheim’s Serge Gnabry has made the opposite trip, signing for Bayern this season but going on loan for a year to Hoffenheim.
The forward would like to show Bayern what he has got but an ankle injury could rule him out for the game.
Dortmund will look to protect their lead when they travel to Freiburg while RB Leipzig play on Friday against Hamburg SV, who have enjoyed their best start in eight season with two wins out of two games.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Nick Mulvenney