Whittling down of German team begins

Germany left-back Marvin Plattenhardt (top) will hope to impress manager Joachim Low in the absence of first-choice starter Jonas Hector. The Hertha Berlin defender and RB Leipzig's Marcel Halstenberg (above) are aware that doing well against England
Germany left-back Marvin Plattenhardt (above) will hope to impress manager Joachim Low in the absence of first-choice starter Jonas Hector. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Germany left-back Marvin Plattenhardt (top) will hope to impress manager Joachim Low in the absence of first-choice starter Jonas Hector. The Hertha Berlin defender and RB Leipzig's Marcel Halstenberg (above) are aware that doing well against England
The Hertha Berlin defender and RB Leipzig's Marcel Halstenberg (above) are aware that doing well against England and France will put them in the frame for a place at Russia 2018.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Champions to use England, France friendlies as a test of their depth with 23 places at stake

BERLIN • Germany coach Joachim Low says he will use the forthcoming friendlies against England and France to start making some "tough decisions" ahead of next year's World Cup defence in Russia.

Germany face England away at Wembley on Friday and host France in Cologne four days later, which Low will use to review his options.

The German squad gathered in Berlin yesterday to prepare for the double header with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, plus forwards Thomas Muller and Marco Reus sidelined by injury.

Even without the star trio, Germany have an embarrassment of riches with new names pushing the established stars who won the 2014 World Cup. The gamble of taking an inexperienced squad of fringe players to Russia for the Confederations Cup in June paid off for Low.

Rising stars Timo Werner, 21; Niklas Sule, 22; and Sebastian Rudy, 27, all seized their chance to impress.

Now Low has numerous options for the England and France friendlies, a situation which is set to spark a fight for places in his 23-man World Cup squad.

"We have to make tough decisions," said the manager, with Germany also set to face Spain and Brazil in friendlies next March.

"We have to have an incredibly strong squad where every player is in top shape - every day and every minute."

Midfielders Mario Gotze and Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City respectively, must prove themselves after lengthy spells on the sidelines.

In particular, Low will use the England game to look at the left-back position.

His first-choice starter, Cologne's Jonas Hector, is injured, leaving Marvin Plattenhardt of Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig's uncapped Marcel Halstenberg vying for the berth.

The Three Lions will be without the City pair of Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph, and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson after they became the latest withdrawals from England's injury-hit squad yesterday.

Tottenham's Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Harry Winks had already withdrawn from the initial 25-man squad for the friendlies against Germany and five-time World Cup winners Brazil.

Gareth Southgate called up West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore on Monday.

But he could yet draft in more players ahead of the meetings against the two highest-placed teams in the Fifa world rankings.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Whittling down of German team begins'. Print Edition | Subscribe