FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -Mario Gomez watched from the sidelines as Bayern Munich got off to a record start in the Bundesliga, winning 10 of 11 games. The Germany striker is now ready to return and promises goals.
Gomez could get to play - at least briefly - in Saturday's Bavarian derby in Nuremberg. He scored four goals earlier this week in a friendly against a team of part-timers in his first game since surgery on his left ankle on Aug. 7. Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes was pleased with what he saw.
While Gomez recovered from injury, others have filled in ably. Mario Mandzukic scored eight goals in the Bundesliga and 11 in Bayern's 18 games in all competitions. Claudio Pizarro had six.
Gomez says he is not worried about competition.
"I've been competing against very good strikers for eight years and I've always been able to get through," Gomez told Kicker magazine. "And I am going to do it again, I will score at will."
Mandzukic and Pizarro were brought in before the season because Bayern president Uli Hoeness thought the club needed more forwards, especially after losing the Champions League final at home to Chelsea.
"Gomez is good but not very good," Hoeness said famously about a striker who netted 41 goals last season in all competitions.
He may have had a point: although Gomez topped the Bundesliga scoring chart, Bayern went without a title the past two seasons.
In the first 18 games last season, Gomez scored 16 goals, only one fewer than Mandzukic and Pizarro combined this year.
"My reply to all these things is that I've shown in the past three years what I can do and don't have to prove anything to anyone," he said.
Gomez said he'd had "a very good" talk with Hoeness and "got his message."
While hoping to play, Gomez concedes that he is still not "100 percent" after the long recovery.
"It was the first operation in my life and the longest break I've had," he said.
Heynckes said Gomez played well over an hour in the friendly, adding: "We achieved what we wanted with the test."
Since losing its only game of the championship so far against Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern has bounced back with three wins - 3-0 at Hamburger SV, 2-0 over Eintracht Frankfurt and a 6-1 rout of Lille in the Champions League.
Bayern has a seven-point lead over Schalke, which has a short trip to Leverkusen on Saturday.
Third-place Frankfurt, the surprise team so far, will seek to return to winning ways at home against last-place Augsburg. Eintracht has lost two of its last three, plus a draw.
Two-time defending champion Borussia Dortmund hosts promoted Greuther Fuerth. Dortmund has been inconsistent this season but is likely to pick up its second straight victory. Dortmund is already 11 points behind Bayern and cannot afford many more slip-ups, especially not at home.
Also Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach hosts Stuttgart, Hannover plays Freiburg and Mainz visits Hamburger SV. On Sunday, Werder Bremen hosts Fortuna Duesseldorf and Wolfsburg visits Hoffenheim. There is no Friday match.