BERLIN (Reuters) - The return of Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman after a four-month injury break is the best news the champions have had for weeks, with club bosses banking on the Frenchman to carry them higher up the table after a rocky start to the season.
The speedy winger had been sidelined since August with yet another ankle injury that required surgery but the former Juventus player returned this month.
France international Coman also missed this summer's World Cup with a similar injury and was forced to watch from afar as his team were crowned world champions.
The 22-year-old hinted days ago of possible early retirement should he injure the ankle again, a thought quickly brushed aside by club bosses, who are committed to keeping him in Munich and developing him into a team stalwart.
Coman, who came through the Paris Saint-Germain's youth system and joined Bayern from Juve in 2015, told French television last week he would consider his future as a player in case of another major injury.
But Coman's mind was certainly not on retirement when he netted a late goal in the 3-3 draw at Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday -- a result that put Bayern into the last of Champions League as group winners.
"I am delighted about his goal," said Bayern coach Niko Kovac, who has himself had a tough first season.
"Because King had a really tough injury break behind him and with this goal (the discussion on potential retirement) has been closed and he will still be playing football at 35."
He is expected to reclaim his starting spot ahead of veteran Franck Ribery.
Bayern have been in desperate need of Coman's services down the wings, with top forward Robert Lewandowski struggling alone up front for much of the season so far.
The return of Thomas Mueller in his familiar role behind the striker, along with Coman's comeback, have also seen Bayern return to their winning ways.
The Bavarians have now won their last two league games after failing to win any of the previous three.
They have climbed up to third on 27 points and victory over Hanover 96 on Saturday could see them move into second place behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund, who are on 36 points, host Werder Bemen while second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, two points ahead of Bayern, travel to Hoffenheim on Saturday.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Martyn Herman)