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Germany coach Loew taps young Dortmund talent for Sweden friendly

The mercurial rise of youthful Dortmund in the Bundesliga has not gone unnoticed. For Wednesday's match, Germany's coach has called up a quartet of Dortmunders. Some may being staying in the national squad.

Dortmund players celebrate

Some young players in yellow are ready to take center stage

On the one hand, it's a mark of how confident Joachim Loew is that he's omitted regulars like Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller and Philipp Lahm for the Sweden match in Goeteborg mid-week. But a bit of additional quality in the squad is never unwelcome.

In the past, Loew has called up young players as a reward for good performances in the domestic league - and as a way of securing their services for Germany in future.

Wednesday's squad includes two debutees from Dortmund, Marcel Schmelzer and Mario Goetze. In addition, two of their teammates, Mats Hummels and Kevin Grosskreutz, are being capped for only the second time.

Not every player who gets a call-up goes on to play a meaningful role in the national squad, of course, but each of these players have reason to hope Wednesday won't be the last time they'll be donning a Germany jersey.

So who are these young players and what are their strengths and future prospects for Germany?

Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels

Hummels is the Bundesliga's top-rated defender

A product of Bayern Munich's youth academy, 21-year-old Mats Hummels was allowed to move to Dortmund in 2009, and some in the Bavarian capital probably regret letting him go.

Except for a period when he was injured, the central defender has been a permanent part of coach Juergen Klopp's starting line-up. Together with Neven Subotic, he heads the youngest and best defense in the Bundesliga.

And central defense is one area that's up in the air at the moment for the Germany squad. Veteran Arne Friedrich and Holger Badstuber are currently out with nagging injuries, and neither Per Mertesacker nor Heiko Westermann have impressed this season.

At 191 centimeters, Hummels is big enough for the position, and he scores the occasional goal as well.

So don't be surprised to see him in the starting line-up in Sweden - or in the Germany squad at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Marcel Schmelzer

Marcel Schmelzer makes a tackle

Schmelzer is good at both ends of the pitch

22-year-old Magdeburg native Marcel Schmelzer made a move to Dortmund five years ago, and has worked his way up through the youth team ranks to take the place of veteran Brazilian Dede in Klopp's starting eleven.

Schmelzer is lightning quick and has shown this season that he's good enough on the ball to keep opposing defenses under constant pressure.

What makes him particularly interesting for Loew, though, is the fact that he plays left-back, a position that Germany have struggled with in the past.

Philipp Lahm doesn't want to play there, and it's not a natural role for Badstuber or Jerome Boateng, who have both given it a shot with mixed results.

He's also likely to be given playing time against the Swedes. And if Schmelzer impresses, it's not hard to see Loew thinking he's too good to leave at home.

Kevin Grosskreutz

Kevin Grosskreutz and Marcel Schmelzer

Grosskreutz is joining Schmelzer in Sweden

A local boy and life-long Dortmund fan, 22-year-old Kevin Grosskreutz began kicking the ball around in the club’s youth academy and, after returning from second-division Ahlen last season, he's established himself in Juergen Klopp's starting 11.

He's a hard-working winger who can both score and set up others. That's important because Loew favors a system with a single center forward and two speedsters feeding in balls from the wings.

Grosskreutz is also left-footed, which could make him the perfect understudy for Lukas Podolski - or replacement should Poldi pick up an injury or completely lose his form.

And since Podolski has ruled himself out of Wednesday's friendly, Grosskreutz will likely get a chance to step up and show what he can do.

Mario Goetze

Mario Goetze scores

Goetze's slick skills helped topple Mainz

18-year-old Mario Goetze is another Dortmund boy through and through, and despite his tender years, he's played in every match this season save one, scoring two goals and contributing four assists.

Bundesliga fans will remember the forward's cool finish against Mainz two rounds ago. It ushered in the Dortmund win that took them top the top of the table.

Loew apparently recalls that goal as well, having decided that, despite a lack of experience, Goetze was worth a closer look.

Of the four youngsters, Goetze's chances of staying with the Nationalelf in the coming months are probably the worst. As long as he's able to walk unassisted, Miroslav Klose is a permanent fixture in Loew's squad, and Mario Gomez and Cacau are regulars as well.

But Goetze has impressed at every stage of Germany's youth national teams and is certainly a candidate for Brazil, if not Poland and Ukraine.

What is virtually certain is that the side Germany fields in 2012 will differ at a number of positions from the one which took third place in South Africa.

And the odds are that there will be a noticeable streak of Dortmund yellow in the red, black and gold.

Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Rob Turner

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