Football: Germany's Lars Bender out of World Cup with thigh injury

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Germany midfielder Lars Bender has been ruled out of next month's football World Cup in Brazil with a thigh injury in another blow to coach Joachim Loew's plans.

Two days after Germany started their preparations in northern Italy, the Bayer Leverkusen player became the latest injury victim and pulled out of the 27-man provisional squad, the team said on Friday.

The 25-year-old, who has scored four times in 17 international appearances, picked up a "combined" muscle and tendon injury in his right thigh in training on Thursday evening and will now leave the camp.

His bad luck follows that of his twin brother Sven, who failed to make the squad because of injury, and throws the door open for unexpected call-up Christoph Kramer to claim a World Cup spot.

"When a player is ruled out so close before a tournament then it is very disappointing for everyone," Loew said in a statement. "I feel personally very sorry for Lars because I know how much he wanted to be in Brazil."

Bender is the latest German to suffer injury with captain Philipp Lahm and first choice keeper Manuel Neuer out for days and still to arrive in Italy because of knocks.

Fellow Bayern Munich team mate Bastian Schweinsteiger is also yet to begin training with the team as he works on his fitness following a knee inflammation, while Real Madrid's Sami Khedira is also just back from a cruciate ligament tear last year.

Top striker Miroslav Klose is racing to get fit in time of the tournament after an injury-plagued season at Italy's Lazio and has also yet to train with the team.

Several other players, including regulars Mario Gomez and Ilkay Guendogan did not even make the provisional squad after failing to return to full fitness from long injury absences this season.

The three-time World Cup winners have been drawn in Group G along with Portugal, United States and Ghana.

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