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By ESPN Staff
Mar 27, 2011

Germany release key trio

Germany will be without captain Philipp Lahm and Real Madrid pair Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira for their friendly against Australia on Tuesday.

Coach Joachim Low has released the trio as he prepares to use an experimental side for the match in Monchengladbach to take a closer look at several fringe players and try out different tactics.

Ozil and Khedira, who have a Champions League quarter-final with Tottenham coming up, and Lahm, who has been an ever-present for Bayern Munich this season, will return to their clubs on Monday.

"I had already spoken with the players and they will no longer be with us on Tuesday," Low said.

He therefore has a squad of 19 players available for Tuesday's game, in which Mainz forward Andre Schurrle will replace Lukas Podolski and Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels will start in the centre of the defence.

Marcel Schmelzer has also been guaranteed a place as Lahm's replacement.

Miroslav Klose is likely to wear the captain's armband in the absence of Lahm and the national team's official captain Michael Ballack, who has not figured in any of Low's squads since injuring his ankle prior to last year's World Cup.

However, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder's international career is not yet over and Low will hold talks with the 34-year-old next month.

"We have spoken on the phone several times and have not had chance to meet in March, but we will do so in April," Low told ZDF television. "I am glad that he has been playing more regularly recently."

Germany will go into the game having been booed by their own fans in Saturday night's 4-0 win over Kazakhstan, a response which was condemned by Low.

After opening up a 3-0 lead by half-time, the fans inside Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter Stadion clearly expected more of the same, but they had to wait until the 88th minute before seeing another goal, by which time they had vented their frustration.

However, Low defended his team, saying they have more than lived up to the expectations.

"We have maximum points and have scored 17 goals so we have more than fulfilled our duty," he said. "Of course the expectations have risen due to our recent games and everybody expects us to send our opponents home on the back of a 6-0, 7-0 or 8-0 hiding."

Bastian Schweinsteiger was jeered when he left the field and, although his Bayern Munich allegiance may have been behind many of the whistles, his lacklustre performance will have accounted for the rest.

However, Low said it was wrong to criticise his side's vice-captain, even if he is going through a period of indifferent form.

"I think that is extremely negative," Low said. "Bastian Schweinsteiger has the right to play a game which is not quite at his highest level. He remains an irreplaceable player in German football."

Low could only find one fault in his side's performance, and that was their failure to take the many chances they created, especially in the first half.

He said: "We were just not so clear with some chances. We did well in the first half because we were able to put many passes together, but we were unable to keep up this high tempo in the second half."

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