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Feb 24, 2014

Loew fears stars may miss World Cup

Joachim Loew has expressed concern that some of Germany’s key players will not be fit in time for the World Cup this summer.

Brewin: Euro 2016 draw analysis

With the tournament less than three months away, Loew has serious doubts over several important members of his squad.

Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira suffered an ACL tear in November, while Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels has missed several weeks with a variety of injuries and teammate Sven Bender was ruled out for the next 10 weeks on Sunday.

Lazio striker Miroslav Klose has also been troubled by fitness issues throughout the campaign and Mesut Ozil, who has been struggling for form, did not make the Arsenal squad on Sunday due to a thigh problem.

On a more positive note, Mario Gomez recently returned after a knee injury disrupted the start of his Fiorentina career and Bastian Schweinsteiger started for Bayern Munich in their 4-0 demolition of Hannover on Sunday after two operations on his ankle, but Loew is anxious about the current situation.

“From a sporting point of view, I have been given some food for thought,” Loew told reporters. “Three months before the World Cup, we have eight or nine players who have little rhythm, who have been injured and have not played in a long time. I am not even certain that all of them can return before the World Cup.”

Loew was speaking at the draw for Euro 2016 qualification, which saw Germany drawn against Georgia, Scotland, Poland, Ireland and first-time participants Gibraltar in Group D.

The draw followed the decision to expand the European Championship to 24 teams, with the top two teams in each group guaranteed a place at the finals in France and third-placed teams assured of at least a playoff spot.

The change of format has been criticised by German officials, who believe the expansion will dilute quality. That led UEFA president Michel Platini to hit back, saying: “If that’s what they think, they should not participate.”

Loew, though, said on the official DFB website that he is looking forward to the qualification campaign.

"It’s definitely an interesting group,” he said. “There’ll certainly be a great atmosphere when we travel to Republic of Ireland and Scotland, and we already know some of the Polish players from the Bundesliga. As for Gibraltar, I’ll approach the games with an open mind.”

Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff added: “Our objective is certainly to top the group. So we won’t change our approach, even though the second-placed team in the group will also qualify -- but, of course, at the moment we’re fully focused on the World Cup.”

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