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Lewandowski ruled out versus Leverkusen; Wagner will start

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It’s been a long time since Sandro Wagner played in a Bayern jersey

Bayern Muenchen v SG Sonnenhof Grossaspach - Friendly Match Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images

Kicker has just obtained information that although Robert Lewandowski has overcome the patella injury that has plagued him this winter break, he will not travel with the team to play against Leverkusen in Bayern Munich’s Rückrunde opener on Friday.

Sandro Wagner thus will stand in Bayern's starting lineup for the first time. The last time Wagner played for Bayern was September 2, 2007, over ten years ago, when he was substituted on for Franck Ribery in the dying minutes of the match. It was the last of four games that Wagner, nineteen at the time, played for Bayern off the bench.

Hamburger SV v Bayern Munich - Bundesliga
A youthful Sandro Wagner watches the match between Bayern Munich and Hamburg, September 2, 2007.
Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Wagner was released in 2008 and joined MSV Duisburg on a free transfer, as he played for a succession of clubs until he fought his way back into the Bundesliga spotlight with his strong performances for Darmstadt in the 2015/16 season, after which he signed with Hoffenheim.

On Tuesday, Wagner had said, “I'm excited to see whether I play, but if I do, I'll be glad.” On returning to Munich, he commented,

I'm definitely happy to be home again. But of course professional matters are the most important thing, and there I'm trying to integrate myself well, get minutes of playing time, and put in good performances.

Now Wagner will have a chance to impress from the get-go. His personal goal remains “to be there in Russia” with the German national team:

That's why the Rückrunde is very, very important for me. I'll do everything. I can only put the pedal to the metal. I can't do more than that. No one will be able to say that I haven't done everything I could.

That journey starts this Friday.