BERLIN - Bayern Munich playmaker Franck Ribery hopes to return to action in the final Bundesliga game of the year against visitors Hertha Berlin on Saturday after missing most of the season with a knee injury.
Despite breaking off training on Wednesday following a kick on one of his toes, Ribery, who has been out for two and a half months, said he wanted to play at least 20 minutes against bottom-placed Hertha.
"I am totally motivated and want to get back to the team," the Frenchman told Bild newspaper on Thursday. "I only returned to full training last week but hope to have 20 minutes against Berlin. I do not feel any pain."
Ribery's return could not have come at a better time with Bayern on a run of five successive wins, including their last three league games. They have also qualified for the Champions League knockout stages despite being all but eliminated early in the campaign.
The Bavarians, who have not topped the Bundesliga since winning the championship in 2008, are in third place on 30 points, two off leaders Bayer Leverkusen.
Ribery, at the heart of a transfer tug-of-war between Bayern and Real Madrid last summer, has refused to say whether he will be staying in Munich after the end of the season despite a contract until 2011.
The 26-year-old said there was no pre-contract agreement signed with Real Madrid and anything could happen at the end of the season.
"No, I have not signed any pre-contract with Real Madrid. Anything is possible. But I want to know by the end of the season whether I will stay or go," he said.
Undefeated Leverkusen want to clinch the unofficial "autumn championship" with a win at home to in-form Borussia Moenchengladbach, who have lost only one of their last seven games, to be on top when the league resumes on January 15.
Second-placed Schalke 04, on 31 points, host Mainz on Friday but the promoted side want to spoil the hosts' spectacular run this season under coach Felix Magath, with only one defeat in the last 10 games.
"We want to spoil their party," said Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel, whose team are in eighth place. "So we need to be cool and focused, and we want to grab anything we can being the outsiders."