Kroos making case for lead Bayern role

BERLIN - Bayern Munich coach Juergen Klinsmann may have to start giving Toni Kroos more of a first-team chance or risk losing one of the brightest young talents in Germany, at least temporarily.

Kroos made a good case for a place in the starting line-up against Energie Cottbus on Saturday when he scored a great goal for the German Under-21s against Italy in midweek.

The 18-year-old, long tipped as a future German great, has started just two league games in his debut season in the first team and he is understandably keen for a bigger role.

Plenty of clubs are interested in taking him on loan for the second half of the season, but the player himself is waiting to see what happens.

"Whether I leave or not is up to me," he told reporters after his starring role in midweek. "But I have seen my situation improve a bit later."

Kroos turned in his best display of the season when he came on as a second-half substitute in the recent 3-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld.

There were signs there that his ability, particularly from set-pieces, could ease some of the pressure on Franck Ribery, who has provided most of the creativity during Bayern's recent revival.

Their five-match winning run came to an end with a 2-2 draw away to Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend.

That left them three points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim with four matches left to play before the long mid-season break.

Klinsmann's stated target is to take back top spot by then and they have an outside chance of making up some ground this weekend, with both their rivals away from home.

Leverkusen are at Arminia Bielefeld, while Hoffenheim travel to face unpredictable Cologne.

In the other outstanding match of the 14th round of matches, fifth-placed Hamburg SV host Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Like Bayern, Werder are struggling to meet the demands of Bundesliga and Champions League this season. With 13 games played, Werder, last season's runners-up, are in seventh place, eight points behind the leaders.