Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus is expected to make his comeback from injury in early 2018 and will be keen to seal a place in Germany's World Cup squad. - © © imago
Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus is expected to make his comeback from injury in early 2018 and will be keen to seal a place in Germany's World Cup squad. - © © imago

From Borussia Dortmund duo Marco Reus and Christian Pulisic to Werder Bremen new boy Josh Sargent: the players to watch in the Bundesliga in 2018

From big-name stars making comebacks from injury to youngsters eager to show what they can do, 2018 is set to be a decisive year for many of the Bundesliga's finest. takes a look at the ten players to keep an eye out for in the new year...

Marco Reus(Borussia Dortmund)

The 28-year-old has been out of action since tearing his posterior cruciate ligament in the DFB Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt on 27 May 2017, before undergoing corrective surgery ten days later. That particular injury usually takes a little longer to recover from than the eight months typically needed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

If the winger's rehabilitation continues to go as planned – he is now back training with a ball – then Dortmund can hope to have him back on the pitch some time in late February or March. His pace, trickery and seemingly telepathic understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were sorely missed by BVB in the first half of the 2017/18 season, but will be a welcome sight once he returns. And with a spot in Germany's squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at stake, Reus will be determined to hit top form as soon as possible. That can only mean good news for Peter Stöger's side.

Christian Pulisic(Dortmund)

In 2016 he went from unknown prospect to record-breaking young talent; in 2017 he underlined his status as an outstanding footballer, and in 2018...? Given the astonishing rate of Pulisic's rise to becoming a genuine global star, the mind boggles at what the 19-year-old might achieve this year.

The USA international's pace, directness and big-game mentality mean he is now a guaranteed starter for both club and country. In what has been a disappointing season so far for Dortmund, Pulisic is one of the few players at BVB to have enhanced his reputation thanks to his fearless, confident displays. As clichéd as it sounds, the sky really is the limit for Pulisic.

Watch: Pulisic's December Goal of the Month winner

Manuel Neuer(Bayern Munich)

The past year has been a difficult one for the Bayern and Germany number one, with a string of injuries keeping him on the sidelines for the majority of 2017. Following a minor foot complaint in March, he broke his foot in April but recovered enough to make his comeback at the end of August. However, his return was shortlived and after playing in just four competitive matches he broke his foot again in mid-September.

Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has insisted he will not rush the 31-year-old back, with Germany head coach Joachim Löw indicating that Neuer is scheduled to return to full training in February or March. That should give the custodian plenty of time to sharpen up in the business end of the season as Bayern go on the hunt for another treble. His World Cup place does not appear to be in any danger, however, with Löw stating: "He's the best goalkeeper in the world, a rock and our captain. We absolutely need him."

Watch: Manuel Neuer's roots

Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Another bona-fide star set to delight fans in 2018 as he makes his first tentative steps back onto the pitch following a serious injury. The 28-year-old has now returned to full training with the Eagles after undergoing surgery on a persistent back complaint and can expect to be eased back gently into the fray over the coming weeks.

Frankfurt have had a solid 2017/18 campaign thus far and are currently eighth in the Bundesliga standings. However, their tally of just 20 goals scored at the halfway stage is by far the worst of any team in the top half of the table and will need to improve significantly if they are to sustain a push for the European places. With that in mind, Fabian's return could hardly come at a better time. The Mexico international's energy, eye for goal and ability to play the killer final ball will be a boost to Niko Kovac's men, with the playmaker also eager to be included in El Tri's squad at Russia 2018.

Watch: Fabian's top 5 Bundesliga goals

Leon Bailey(Bayer Leverkusen)

What do you get if you mix turbo-charged pace, a fearsome left boot and a killer instinct in front of goal? Leon Bailey is what.

The Jamaican attacker has truly come into his own at Leverkusen this season after gently testing the Bundesliga waters in the second half of 2016/17. The 20-year-old is unquestionably a first-team regular in Heiko Herrlich's side now and was flying just before the winter break, providing eight goals and five assists in 16 competitive outings for the club.

Going into the 2017/18 Rückrunde with the batteries recharged after a holiday in his homeland, Bailey is only going to get better. The kind of player who draws gasps of expectation from spectators whenever he gets the ball, Bailey will be a key figure in Leverkusen's aim of remaining in the top four at the end of the campaign.

Divock Origi(Wolfsburg)

This could be Origi's time to shine. After joining Wolfsburg on loan at the start of the season from Liverpool in search of more playing time, the 22-year-old striker often had to settle for a place on the bench or wide on the right given Mario Gomez's position as the alpha in the Wolves' pack. Now that Gomez has moved on to Stuttgart, however, the stage is set for Origi to play in his preferred central position.

Those are some big shoes to fill, no question, but the powerfully-built Belgium international has shown glimpses of his potential already this term, netting four times in 15 Bundesliga outings. Eager to cement a place in Belgium's World Cup squad given the fierce competition for attacking places, Origi will now have the time and opportunity to showcase his goalscoring talents. With Wolfsburg hovering just above the relegation zone and struggling for goals this season, an über-motivated Origi could be just what they need.

Watch: Origi's last-gasp equaliser for Wolfsburg in Schalke

Sandro Wagner(Bayern Munich)

The self-styled "best German striker by a mile," Wagner has the chance to prove himself right now that he has returned to his boyhood club from Hoffenheim. Released by Bayern in 2008, the 29-year-old has had a nomadic career in Germany ever since, but will be more determined than ever to show the record Bundesliga champions they were wrong to let him go in the first place.

Although Wagner is unlikely to oust Robert Lewandowski from Jupp Heynckes' starting line-up, he should still get plenty of game time given that Bayern are competing on three fronts, plus the fact that Lewandowski himself has stated he could do with a rest every so often. A late bloomer, with 29 of his 36 Bundesliga goals coming since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, the forward is also looking to stay in Joachim Löw's thoughts as the World Cup in Russia approaches.

Jann-Fiete Arp(Hamburg)

Amidst the managerial changes and frequent flirtation with relegation in recent seasons, there has not been a great deal to cheer about in Hamburg of late. That all changed with the arrival of 17-year-old striker Jann-Fiete Arp, though. The Germany youth international wrote his name into the history books this season by becoming the first player born since the turn of the millennium to appear in the Bundesliga.

The quick-footed attacker wasted little time in showing he is not there merely to make up the numbers, scoring twice in his first three league outings. Good in the air, unfazed by playing against experienced pros and with a natural nose for goal, Arp looks set to continue his schooling in the first team as HSV seek to climb the table and avoid the drop once more. Whisper it quietly, but should he do so he could be an outside candidate to sneak onto Germany's plane when they head to Russia in the summer.

Watch: Arp on scoring his maiden Bundesliga goal this season

Jonas Hector (Cologne)

To say that Cologne have missed Hector's composure, drive and vision this season would be quite the understatement. The 27-year-old only played in the Billy Goats' first three Bundesliga games before damaging knee ligaments in September and he has since been powerless to prevent the club slipping down to the foot of the table.

Able to play in central midfield or at left-back, where he is Löw's first choice for Germany, Hector should feature in the majority of the second half of 2017/18 after Cologne coach Stefan Ruthenbeck announced his imminent return to full training. His very presence on the pitch will be a boost for what is largely a youthful and inexperienced Cologne side.

Watch: Hector indispensable for club and country

Josh Sargent(Werder Bremen)

Following in the footsteps of Pulisic and Weston McKennie comes another talented American teenager arriving in the Bundesliga with his heart set on establishing himself in the professional game. Still just 17, Sargent will sign a contract at Bremen on his 18th birthday in February and has already achieved something no other U.S. player has before him, namely to feature at the U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups and receive a senior international call-up to the USMNT all in the same calendar year.

The fact Sargent was also named U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year for 2017 gives a further indication of how highly regarded he is. Although the 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) forward is not immediately expected to compete with the likes of Max Kruse and Fin Bartels for a place in the first team, Bremen have a history of developing young players so the chances are good that he will be given opportunities to keep those Stars and Stripes flying proudly in Germany.

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