Germany's Joachim Low: There's still hope for injured Reus, Sane, Gundogan
Germany coach Joachim Low has handed fresh hope to players such as Marco Reus, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, who all were unable to take part in the Confederations Cup due to injury.
While Low rested several star players at the recent tournament in Russia which Germany won, others including Reus, Sane, Gundogan and Mario Gotze were not up for selection because of injuries and, in the case of the latter, illness.
Borussia Dortmund winger Reus has been hit hard in particular by injuries, missing the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, while this summer he sustained a cruciate ligament injury ruling him out until 2018. Julian Draxler was often involved in Reus' absence and led Germany to Confederations Cup glory this summer.
Low told Sport Bild: "Julian Draxler took part in the 2014 and 2016 tournaments, and especially at the Euros showed good performances. Marco, on the other hand, missed them through injuries. Ahead of the Confederations Cup, he told me that the 2018 World Cup is his big goal. I hope he achieves it because Marco Reus is an extraordinary player."
Reus' former Dortmund teammate and current Manchester City midfielder Gundogan also missed tournaments through injury, and Low said that he hopes he "can play a season until the end" and "if that's the case he'd be a great fit for the 2018 World Cup."
Sane underwent surgery on his nose instead of playing in Russia this summer, and while regretting that he was not part of the squad, Low said that "at Manchester City he has that certain pressure I wanted to put on the players at the Confederations Cup."
"Leroy has taken a very good development in the last nine months," he added. "And thus in his case I don't necessarily regard the withdrawal as a disadvantage."
Emre Can, another Premier League player, took part in the Confederations Cup but faces stiff competition from Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos to feature regularly.
Low said: "Emre is a bit like Sami. He's good in the direct duels, has a physical presence on the field. Emre can also join the attack. He hasn't been a central figure in the national team so far, but he's definitely made a step forward in our perception. Independent of Sami, Emre is a player like we want them."
Commenting on Germany's squad depth and a possible selection dilemma ahead of next summer, Low said: "I hope that I will face a difficult decision prior to the World Cup in Russia. But a lot can happen in a year, and I've experienced that often enough."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.