Alphonso Davies (l.) is expected to start for Hansi Flick's (r.) Bayern Munich in Cologne on Sunday. - © imago
Alphonso Davies (l.) is expected to start for Hansi Flick's (r.) Bayern Munich in Cologne on Sunday. - © imago
bundesliga

"Alphonso Davies fit to face Cologne" - Bayern Munich interim coach Hansi Flick

Alphonso Davies has been passed fit to face Cologne on Sunday after shaking off a minor knock, Bayern Munich interim coach Hansi Flick has confirmed.

Davies had to cut team training short on Wednesday after a challenge from Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry. He left the pitch on a golf cart and with an ice pack wrapped around the problem area, but sustained only superficial damage. As things stand, all signs point to the 19-year-old starting his 14th Bundesliga match on the spin.

“It was a normal training session for us,” Flick told media at his pre-match press conference on Friday. “Other than Javi Martinez and Niklas Süle, everyone was on board. Davies, too.”

Lucas Hernandez is one of those available players after making his comeback as a substitute for Jerome Boateng in last weekend’s goalless draw with title rivals RB Leipzig. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner has not started a came since undergoing ankle ligament surgery in October, though, and Flick has stressed how important it is not to rush Bayern’s record signing back.

Bayern’s temporary boss also urged patience with winger Kingsley Coman, who returned late on in the Leipzig game after suffering a knee injury in the UEFA Champions League group-stage win against Tottenham Hotspur in December.

“Hernandez and Coman are doing well in training, but we’re not quite sure if they’re ready to play 90 minutes yet,” Flick admitted. “We still have to talk about whether or not they’ll start. We need them both at 100 per cent when we’re playing every three days again.”

Lucas Hernandez (l-r.) will battle it out for a starting berth in the Bayern back four in the coming weeks. - Getty Images

While Coman offers a tried-and-tested alternative on the left wing, Hernandez’s return poses quite the selection headache for Flick.

Hernandez won the World Cup as France’s first-choice left-back, but has played centrally in half of his 10 competitive outings for Bayern to date. In his absence, fellow left-footers Davies and David Alaba have excelled at left- and centre-back respectively; the right-footed Boateng has also been praised for his performances in the middle, while Benjamin Pavard’s assured performances at right-back have enabled Joshua Kimmich to operate in his preferred midfield role.

There have been suggestions that three left-footed players across the back four would create an imbalance, but Flick doesn’t see it that way.

“David [Alaba] has played left-back for years, but has done a fantastic job in the middle,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter if there are three left-footers or three right-footers in the defence. What matters is that it works.”

David Alaba and Davies (l-r.) have struck up a formidable partnership on the left-hand side of the Bayern defence in recent months. - 2019 Getty Images

Makeshift of not, Bayern have hit top form in recent months, with a seven-match unbeaten run, comprising six wins, taking them back to the top of the table - a point clear of Leipzig. The record champions are also through to the DFB Cup quarter-finals, where they’ll face Bundesliga rivals Schalke, and take on English Premier League club Chelsea in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie in less than a fortnight’s time.

Bayern are chasing an eighth successive Bundesliga title win, a second DFB Cup triumph in a row, but first Champions League trophy since beating Borussia Dortmund in the competition’s first all-German final in 2012/13.