Berlin: Ex-Germany captains Oliver Kahn and Lothar Matthaeus have warned current skipper Manuel Neuer not to risk his career by rushing back from injury ahead of next year`s World Cup.
"He should give himself the necessary time," Matthaeus, 56, who captained Germany to the 1990 World Cup title, told magazine Sport Bild.
"If something else happens, not only the World Cup will be over for him, but his career will be in danger. The only thing which counts is zero risk!"
Bayern Munich shot-stopper Neuer, 31, is not expected back until January at the earliest after injuring himself in September when he fractured his left foot for the second time this year.
Neuer had previously fractured the same foot in April, aggravating a previous injury after rushing back to face Real Madrid in the quarter-final defeat in the Champions League.
With an eye on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Neuer wants to return as soon as possible, but former Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Kahn also urged caution based on his own experiences.
"In 1994, I had a severe injury with a cruciate ligament tear and also wanted to play again very early," said Kahn, 48, who captained Germany in their 2002 World Cup final defeat by Brazil.
"I see a certain parallel here, as he also wanted to return from injury very early with his quick comeback against Real Madrid."
With Neuer absent, Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen played for the world champions when they won the Confederations Cup in Russia last July.
However, Neuer remains first choice with Germany head coach Joachim Loew and was voted the world`s best goalkeeper for four years in a row between 2013 and 2016.
Sven Ulreich has also been playing well for Bayern, with Neuer`s understudy making a string of important saves in Tuesday`s 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Germany kick off the defence of their World Cup title against Mexico in Moscow on June 17. They will also face Sweden and South Korea in Group F.