Low leaves Ballack out
Germany coach Joachim Low has named five Borussia Dortmund players in his squad to face Italy at the Westfalenstadion next week.
Sven Bender is the only new name in a 22-man squad for the friendly and is joined by club team-mates Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Kevin Grosskreutz and Marcel Schmelzer, for whom the rematch with the Italians at the scene of their semi-final defeat to the eventual World Cup winners in 2006 will be a home game.
There is no room in the squad for national team captain Michael Ballack just yet, however.
"He has looked healthy and made a good physical impression over 90 minutes in his last game,'' Low said. "He is on the way back to the right rhythm and then we will certainly count on him.''
Bender is one of several players to have emerged in what has been an extremely successful season for Dortmund so far, and Low feels he now deserves a chance to prove himself on the international stage.
"We have been watching him constantly for the past six months,'' Low said. "He particularly impressed me with his performance against Wolfsburg and he left a lasting impression.''
Low hopes not only to gain revenge for the defeat to Italy in 2006, but to make a successful and confident start to 2011.
"We can take a lot out of this game with us into the upcoming games this year,'' he said. "We are delighted to be able to play in Dortmund, where we have played many important matches.''
Squad: Adler (Bayer Leverkusen), Neuer (Schalke), Aogo (Hamburg), Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Boateng (Man City), Friedrich (Wolfsburg), Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Lahm (Bayern Munich), Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Westermann (Hamburg), Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Gotze (Borussia Dortmund), Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Khedira (Real Madrid), Ozil (Real Madrid), Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Trasch (Stuttgart), Gomez (Bayern Munich), Klose (Bayern Munich), Muller (Bayern Munich), Podolski (Cologne).