Germany included injured captain Manuel Neuer in its preliminary World Cup squad on Tuesday, striker Nils Petersen was a surprise call-up, and Mario Goetze was left out altogether.
Neuer, who hasn’t played since September because of a hairline fracture in his left foot, was one of four goalkeepers to be selected as Germany coach Joachim Loew gives him every chance of proving his fitness for the tournament in Russia.
“We’ve been in constant contact with Manuel. He’s now taking a full part in training in Munich. We want to observe him ourselves to form an impression and will be able to do that at the training camp,” Loew said of the side’s preparations in South Tyrol, Italy, from May 23. “But you cannot go into such a tournament without match practice.”
Loew will need to present his final squad selection to FIFA by June 4.
Loew opted for Petersen over Bayern Munich forward Sandro Wagner, giving the Freiburg player his first call-up to the national team after an excellent season.
Petersen helped his club stay in the Bundesliga with 15 goals in 32 league appearances, eight of those as a substitute.
“He got 15 goals with a team that does not create many goal chances. He has always made a very good impression. And apart from that he is a very good substitute,” Loew said of Petersen.
Leipzig’s Timo Werner will be the first-choice forward in Russia.
Marco Reus was also selected, but Borussia Dortmund teammate Goetze was left out. Goetze scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final.
“It wasn’t his best season. He wasn’t able to show his incredible quality. Personally, I’m very sorry for him,” Loew said of Goetze.
The buildup to the squad announcement was overshadowed by photos of midfielders Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan presenting jerseys to Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in London at the weekend.
German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel criticized both players, who have Turkish roots, for posing for the photos, saying Erdogan’s repressive control did not correspond with the values cherished by the DFB or football.
Grindel struck a more conciliatory note on Tuesday, saying, “People can make mistakes and we have to keep things in perspective. Both know that they made a mistake. Some (of the reaction) seems to be over the top to me.”
Germany will begin its World Cup defense with group games against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.