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By ESPN Staff

Nowotny called-up for World Cup fitness check

BERLIN, April 21 (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen defender Jens Nowotny has been unexpectedly invited by Germany to take part in World Cup fitness tests next week.

The 32-year-old, who has suffered a series of knee injuries and has not played for the World Cup hosts since 2004, has impressed Germany's management team since returning to Leverkusen's side in February.

"We've been watching Jens closely in recent weeks and have been quite impressed with his performance," said coach Juergen Klinsmann's assistant Joachim Loew in a statement on Friday. "We now want to take a closer look in the fitness tests."

Eighteen World Cup candidates will take part in the tests in Duesseldorf on Monday and Tuesday. Klinsmann must pick his squad by the May 15 deadline.

Nowotny, who was also sidelined for nearly a year following a contract dispute with Leverkusen, has helped his side climb to fifth in the Bundesliga. He has 45 caps to his name.

Most of Germany's regular players will be in Duesseldorf except those from Bayern Munich, who play Eintracht Frankfurt in next week's German Cup final, and Schalke 04, who face Sevilla in Thursday's UEFA Cup semi-final second leg.

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann will be missing due to the Champions League semi-final second leg against Villarreal.

Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings has been excused because of injury.