Coach Joachim Löw has revealed three members of his starting 11 for Germany's World Cup qualifier against San Marino. Miroslav Klose has joined the national team as part of the coaching staff for the first time.
Coach Löw told reporters at a press conference in the Italian coastal city of Rimini on Thursday that Marc-André ter Stegen, Ilkay Gündogan and Mario Gomez would all start Friday's qualifier in nearby San Marino on Friday.
Löw declined to mention any other names, but said that apart from two or three positions he had already decided who else would be in the starting 11. These would be decided following the training session in the evening.
There was no indication whether any of the three youngsters that Löw has called up for the first time - Serge Gnabry, Benjamin Henrichs and Yannick Gerhardt - would be in the lineup, but they did get some good news nonetheless.
"The plan is for all of the players to get playing time," Löw said. "This is the point of such matches, that I would like to give young players a chance."
In other words, if Gnabry, Henrichs and Gerhardt don't play against San Marino, they are likely to see at least some minutes in Tuesday's friendly against Italy in Milan on Tuesday.
Löw also revealed that in the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, one of four nominees who pulled out at short notice, the duties between the sticks would be split over the two matches, with Leverkusen's Bernd Leno set to start against Italy. With the international break coming at a busy time on the football calendar Löw has agreed to let Sami Khedira leave the national team camp after the San Marino match. He left Mesut Özil off the squad entirely to give the player some much-needed rest. Like Neuer and Julian Brandt withdrew due to illness, while Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng pulled out with injuries.
Löw has said that his team would not be taking the qualifier lightly, despite the fact that his team are the overwhelming favorites against San Marino, a team made up of part-timers from a nation of just over 30,000 inhabitants. Germany are top of Group C with all nine points from their first three games, while San Marino have none. However, they did give Norway a bit of a scare last month, when they pulled level at 1-1 in Oslo - with their first goal on the road in 15 years - before losing 4-1.
Germany's most lopsided during Löw's tenure came in Serravalle, where Friday's match is to be played, when the "Nationalmannschaft" crushed San Marino 13-0 in 2006.
Asked about initiation rituals, new coach Klose joked that he neither had to sing, nor strip on returning to the Germany fold
Back in the 'family'
Also at Thursday's press conference was new trainee coach Miroslav Klose, who announced last week that he had decided to end his playing career. The former Germany striker told reporters he was "delighted to once again be part of the big family of the national team." He said the players and staff had given him a warm welcome as he joined the team for the first time in his new role and that it was a "great honor" to work for Germany.
Head coach Löw said that not surprisingly, the former striker would mainly work with the attackers in training.
"Specialization in the indvidual parts of a team plays a key a role in football," he said. "I think we can benefit a great deal from him."
Alluding to the fact that he would have to do without four of the players he originally called up for the two matches, Löw also joked that "Miro is still eligible to play."
pfd/msh (SID, dpa)