Bayern clash could be key to Kuranyi recall

BERLIN - There will be more at stake for Kevin Kuranyi than just a two-point lead in the championship race when Bundesliga leaders Schalke 04 host title rivals Bayern Munich on Saturday.

The Schalke striker, top scorer in the league this season, is hoping his current form will seal a return to the Germany team ahead of this summer's World Cup, some 18 months after he walked out.

Kuranyi, who has scored 17 goals in what has been an eye-popping season so far, stormed out of the stadium during halftime of a World Cup qualifier against Russia in October 2008 after being dropped.

Germany coach Joachim Low pledged never to call him up again for as long as he was in charge but is now under rapidly mounting pressure to reverse his decision.

Low, who has so far refused to comment on the possibility of a Kuranyi return, will be watching from the stands on Saturday.

The 28-year-old, who has won 52 international caps and scored 19 goals, is by far the country's most effective striker at the moment, a lethal weapon in Schalke's fast-paced counter-attacking style of play.

Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, Germany's first-choice strikers, have a combined league tally of four goals and with Bayer Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling injured and Bayern's Mario Gomez having just returned, Low's options look limited.

"Low has put himself in that position," Schalke coach Felix Magath said recently. "He ruled Kuranyi out and now he happens to be the best striker in the league."

Magath is not the only one arguing for Kuranyi to be brought back in from the cold, with Germany defender Arne Friedrich joining Franz Beckenbauer in asking for a Kuranyi pardon.

There is no bigger stage to showcase his skills than the clash against Bayern, buoyed by their 2-1 victory against Manchester United in their Champions League quarter-final first leg in midweek.

Having lost their last two league games, Bayern, who play third-placed Leverkusen next, are desperate to leapfrog Schalke at the top of the table.

Bayern coach Louis van Gaal will have Dutchman Arjen Robben back from injury as well as midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger returning after being suspended for the game against United.

Schalke are top on with 58 points from 28 matches and Bayern are two behind. Leverkusen, who are on 53 points, travel to Eintracht Frankfurt.

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