sport

Gomez Stuttgart start a doubt

Mario Gomez may have to keep the bench warm at his former club Stuttgart on Sunday with his place in the Bayern Munich team far from certain.

The Germany international has had to play second fiddle to Mario Mandzukic for the first half of the season.

And after the Croatian hit form against Augsburg last weekend, Gomez will probably have to settle for a watching brief at his former hunting ground.

"If I were to listen to the critics then I would not have been able to pick Mandzukic, but strikers have droughts from time to time," coach Jupp Heynckes said.

"All three of our strikers have their own strengths, just look at how Mario Gomez played last season, how successful he was.

"It's important to have strikers like him, but he had a few problems with his foot during the winter preparations and Mario Mandzukic played a great game.

"For him then to play again is an unwritten law in football."

Heynckes is therefore unlikely to change a winning team after a 2-0 triumph over Greuther Furth maintained their nine-point cushion at the top of the Bundesliga.

However, he knows his side will have their work cut out keeping such an advantage come the end of the weekend.

"It's not going to be a walk in the park for us in Stuttgart," Heynckes said.

"It's a classic match; a southern derby in front of a sell-out crowd who are always emotionally charged.

"We are going to have to improve."

Stuttgart also need to improve on their 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg last weekend, and to assist them in doing that they have signed Federico Macheda from Manchester United this week.

Although he may not make his debut tomorrow, coach Bruno Labbadia does have his side's top goalscorer Vedad Ibisevic back from suspension, and he will return to the attack.

"It's important that he (Macheda) is given time to settle in," said Labbadia.

"We will have to see how quickly that happens. He has a lot of potential, but we know he is not yet a complete player."